What Happened When I Took On A Year-Long Quest To Change My Life

Today I finished a year-long effort of abstaining from alcohol while simultaneously improving myself in five key areas.  It’s been a year of tremendous self-discovery.  If you are unaware what the hell I am speaking of, I called it “The Quest,” and I started it on October 3, 2017.  “The Quest” started quite differently than how I am now finishing it.  I did, however, layout that it would be fluid in nature and I would change things as I saw fit.  I lived up to that much.  

As of now, I have decided I will be doing four quests in total, treating each quest like a year of college and adding onto the learnings and accomplishments of the year prior.  This gives me a direction to take my creativity and life goals, as well as an outlet to write.

I learned so much this past year and the results were resoundingly positive.  If you haven’t been following along on my path, the goal was to create lasting change by removing distractions, turning bad habits to good, and focusing on five “silos” for growth.  The five silos were: Mental Health, Physical Health, Creativity, Career/Learning, and Relationships.

Accomplishments (the five silos)

Let’s start here, with all the good things that I accomplished over the past year in the five key areas.

First, and foremost, I did not take a single sip of alcohol in 365 days.  I’ll call that, Accomplishment Number One.

Physical Health: Lost approximately fifteen pounds, maintained strength, increased endurance, aesthetically look as good as I’ve looked in years.  I feel healthy… very healthy.

  • My diet has been mostly on point.  I eat far less sugar and carbs than I used to.  Due to my activity level, I may actually need to increase calories, but I have become quite comfortable being leaner than my past bulky self.
  • Worked out approximately 4-6x a week over the course of the year.
  • Sauna, Steam and Cold Therapy 3-5x a week.
  • Regular outdoor activities and exercise (also mental health).

Mental Health:  Noticeably altered my perspective, removed negativity, gained clarity, learned to reframe my thoughts and how to fix a negative mental state.

  • Drastically increased my ability to meditate, which in turn has positively impacted my mental health more than anything I have ever done.  This is a habit that I practice about as often as I go to the gym.  Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more.  I, as a result, find myself breathing through negativity and am less anxious than before.
  • Journaled regularly, which helped digest feelings, prioritize goals and work through emotional baggage and thoughts.
  • Regular exposure to nature.

Creativity:  Wrote more than I had written in many years, something I have always loved to do, but had been neglecting.

  • I started and continually expanded and defined a blog and vlog.
  • Improved my video editing skills.
  • Wrote blogs, book chapters and journal entries.
  • Recently started painting.

Career/Learning:  Started a new career, became truly self-employed, and had some early successes.  Learned a range of topics, read books, and applied new knowledge.

  • I committed to, put in the necessary 90 hours, studied for and passed the Washington state real estate exam, allowing me to start a new and exciting career.
  • Significantly cut back on indulging in unimportant time sucks and always try to choose the option at that moment that creates a better or more productive outcome.  This has led to many more hours reading, workouts, more informative viewing options (such as watching a show that teaches rather than just entertains), etc.
  • I read or listened to the following twenty books:

1. Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

4. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

5. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

6. 4:2 Formula; Getting Buyers Off the Fence and Into a Home by Jeff Shore

7. Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahnuik

8. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

10. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

11. Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

12. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

13. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

14. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

15. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

16. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

17. I Can’t Make This Up by Neil Strauss and Kevin Hart

18. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babbin

19. 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson

20. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

21. All the other books I have indulged in, but either got distracted from or put down in favor of another before finishing.  This was probably the longest book I listened to or read all year 😆

  • Outside of actual book studies, I learned how to manage a blog, meditate efficiently, exercise better, control my weight, and other miscellaneous things.

Relationships:  I have cut out of my life most of the toxic people and have been working to improve my relationship with my girlfriend.  This is more of a personal endeavor, and one that is harder to articulate progress in.  I do feel closer to the people in my life that are meant to be there, and less worried about trying to fit people in that do not try to do the same for me.  Lastly, I am less worried what others think of me.  Although, I am unsure if this was ever a severe ailment of mine, everyone suffers from this on occasion and I can definitely can be a people pleaser.

Where Did I Fall Short?

  • Still a Procrastinator:  Using this post as an example; I should have wrote this last week and then easily posted it today by clicking a button, instead, I have had to write this all up this evening, which took an immense amount of time to do.  I procrastinated.  I tend to do this with most things.  A habit that I will be looking to address in Quest Part Two.
  • My God-Damned Thumbs: I still pick them constantly.  This must stop.  It’s such a bad habit, but I don’t know if it’s rooted in anxiety, or more so, just something I have started doing while I’m thinking or listening.  I did conquer this habit for about two months out of the year, but somehow it came back, probably around when I started practicing real estate.  What a fucking creature of habit, I am. 
  • Patagonia: Unfortunately I have some time before I will be able to afford this trip. 
  • I Like My Sleep:  God damnit, I need to get up earlier.  I, think, this week, I figured out the hack to this: Get excited about the day.  We’ll see the progress that comes from such an epiphany.  I realize that I dream really deeply and have a difficult time breaking from my dream and placing value on getting out of bed over the comfort I feel while lying in it.
  • Money:  Not where I want it, yet.  This will be one of the main focuses in Quest Part Two.
  • Feeds and Screen Time:  I know I just stated this as a positive thing that I have gotten better at.  That’s not entirely true, as I didn’t even have social media before I started real estate.  What I am getting better at is how to better manage this.  It really has to be a cognizant effort or it doesn’t resolve.
  • Writing:  I have, yet, to finish writing the book I said I was to write.  This will, also, roll over into Quest Part Two.
  • Yoga:  My weekly yoga practice never stuck and became something I do on occasion, rather than part of my weekly exercise routine.

What Did I Learn From This Process?

Mostly, I learned that anything I put my mind to, and fully commit to, I can accomplish.  I, also, learned that things happen faster than they seem to, but not without effort.  Patience is, however, key to seeing a goal all the way to fruition.  A year is less time than it seems to be, but longer than most attention spans can hold.  More can be done in a year than expected, but five years of continual progress results in a landslide of change.  I heard this somewhere… probably Tony Robbins or some shit.. but, whatever, it’s relevant.

Would I Do It Again?

100%, absolutely.  As I stated above, I will be taking on another three years of quests that will be different in structure and objective, but build off of what I have completed this year.  This is, again, in attempt to simulate a college-type learning scenario.

Abstaining from alcohol was not difficult once I got started, and though I am looking forward to having a couple beers, I do not plan on overindulgence and know that I have the ability to cut it off entirely at any given point.  I could happily go the rest of my life without ever having another sip of alcohol. 

What Would I Do Differently?

Pertaining to quests, less is often more.  I loaded too much shit into the outline of “The Quest” from the get-go and that resulted in periods of inefficiency where I became frazzled with all the “to-dos” and started neglecting things that were much more pertinent to take care of.  In fact, when I started this whole thing, I was more focused on writing blogs and making sure that I meditated than doing taking care of much more necessary tasks.  Structure is good, but too much structure kills creativity, progress, and is hard to sustain.  In regards to journaling, this was especially true.  As I made my journal more complex, I ended up abandoning journaling for a period.  Keeping a checklist and writing a daily or bi-daily entry seems to keep me on track enough; overcomplicating the process killed the habit entirely, exhausted the free flow nature of it, and was ultimately unproductive.

The same was true with other aspects of “The Quest.”  For example, trying to meditate every single day became a chore, albeit one that I enjoyed, but when it was left unchecked off my to-do list, I became disappointed in myself.  This is actually the opposite effect than the one I was trying to create.  I translated that into a learning experience not to force things and have found that if I just fit my meditation in where its comfortable, I get it done.  With that said, trying to keep on schedule for the first couple of weeks is a good way to kickstart the habit.

I, now, find that I meditate, read, journal/write more days than I do not. 

Exercise is the one area where this does not apply.  If you do not feel like going to the gym, then go to the fucking gym.  A workout, simply, solves most problems and clears the cache.  Also, if I do workout, I am more inclined to meditate and do a heat/cold rotation.  If you are injured or need a rest day, there’s always room for exceptions, but don’t compromise on your commitment to your health and well-being.

Linking these habits to one another, also, seemed to improve the likelihood that I would get them complete. 

What Aspects of My Life Changed the Most Drastically?

Well, first off, I look completely different than I did when I started this.  I wasn’t in terrible shape then, but there is a stark difference in fitness level.  I worked out pretty regularly before I started “The Quest,” and had already started a pretty solid regimen.  What I did not foresee was that I would somehow get down to, and sustain, my body weight at +/- 180 pounds.  Putting weight back on has actually become a difficulty, this is partly because I just don’t like eating a crazy amount of food, but also, my metabolism resembles more of what it did during my high school years than my post-thirty ones.

My overall well-being has significantly improved.  I feel much more dialed and cognizant of how I spend my minutes by actively trying to live in the present.  My perspective is positive and most of my negative thinking is kept at bay.  I, ultimately, learned to control this by noticing who and what I am talking about, stopping myself from gossiping, and framing things in a manner that end in a specific point, rather than some flow of consciousness-styled rant.  Mainly, I have stopped ranting entirely; something I used to do daily.

I have become a much better writer.  Exercising that muscle either through this blog or in my journal has become an irreplaceable outlet for my thoughts.  I will further curate this into an actual talent in the coming years.  Writing a book is still something I long to, and will, eventually complete.

Preparation, as mentioned in an previous post, is something I now consider necessary to advancement.  As well as, taking action.  Learning to balance the two to become more efficient is a necessary skillset that I has seen development.

Random Side Effects:

1.  Foul Language: I cuss less… like, much less.  I have been called out in the past for using “fuck” three-plus times in a single sentence.  The other day, while discussing some random topic, I realized I hadn’t swore in multiple strings of paragraphs.  This was not a work discussion, this was talking to my girlfriend.  Don’t get me wrong, I still probably cuss more than your average Joe, but much less than I used to.

2. Articulation:  My language and conversation skills seem to have greatly improved.  I feel as if I am talking, and perhaps, writing clearer and with more purpose.  That could be my perception, but it could also be from an increased mental acuity coming form mindfulness techniques and the knowledge gained from reading books.

3. Listening:  I’ve become a better listener.  I don’t know what combination of new habits to attribute this to, but I am less likely to cut someone off in conversation than I used to be.  I, also, try not to automate my responses.  I think listening to Audible is part the reason for this, as there is no place to interject oneself when you are listening to a book.

4.  Emotions:  Control, is what I most notice.  I am able to better control MOST of my emotions.  Especially anxiety or unease, as well as lurking depression.  When I do suffer full blown depression, it becomes harder to rebound from.  I have found the cure though, and that is becoming productive when it arrises.  Usually I can tie my depression to some sort of burden I feel I am carrying.  Once I make the burden actionable, it lightens the load and I can move past it.

5.  More Open to New Ideas:  I stopped shutting down ideas that I found imbecilic, and instead embrace new ideas with curiosity.  If for no other reason, to learn why people think the way they do.  So, although I find Alex Jones to be an absolutely insane, crazy person, learning what makes people believe in such obvious falsities intrigues me.  He is still a piece of shit, but one that can be shrugged off.

6.  Funny:  I cannot confirm if this is true or not, but I feel less funny than I used to be.  Maybe it’s an unfair statement, but I used to consider myself a pretty funny guy.  Now, I just feel more focused on accomplishing goals, and much less on making people laugh or being clever.

7.  Narcissism:  I am aware of the narcissism involved with blogging and vlogging, hash-tagging and just social media overall.  I would have relentlessly clowned on this very blog just a year ago, but I also wanted an outlet to write and a way to hold myself accountable to stay on track towards my objective.  It worked.  So, fuck it, I now blog and vlog…  I know it is self-indulgence at its finest, but until I accomplish what I have set out to, that will have to be an asterisk.

8.  Loss of Interest in Media:  I, currently, hate spending time watching TV.  More so, I hate spending time staring at my phone.  Although, I do still find myself on the couch watching Netflix, I have started turning it off when I am disinterested.  I had this conversation with my friend Jarod this week, and we both were on the same page here.  When I am watching TV, I should commit fully to watching TV.  No phone in hand, no searching for hours for something to watch.  Just turn on the show, watch the show without distraction to completion, TV off, next task.  This really should be applied to any activity.  Be present in everything you do.

What Habits Will I Continue?

Most of them.  Removing only the overly-structured constructs that I initially put around goals in an attempt to accomplish them. 

What Habits Will I Discontinue?

I think, when I started doing this blog, I said I was going to run regularly.  I don’t think that will stick as a regular activity.  I have no intention of running much, as it can hurt my knees.  Plus, I find hiking, biking, or even rowing, more enjoyable.  I do like trail running though, which I would gladly do more of.

What Would I Like to See More of Next Year?

More Alpine.  More Stability.  More Money.  More Adventure.  More Mountains.  More Learning.  More Yoga.  More Mindful.  More Hustle.  More Patience.  More Love.

What About the Future Most Excites Me?

I am done worrying about the past or the future.  Even getting pre-maturely excited about the future tags it with an expectation that may or may not conclude how it plays out in actuality; resulting in disappointment.  The excitement that I feel is towards the opportunity to tackle the goals right in front of me, right now.  I am excited to do that everyday, with everything I decide to do.  I am excited to approach every task with an enthusiasm and vigor that continues to grow as I further learn to hone my presence in the moment.  Balancing all the different aspects of my life gets me excited, too.  As does, increasing my knowledge.  This all fills me with a significant amount of purpose.  That purpose brings a sense of calm, and that calmness is better than excitement, it’s contentment.  Contentment is balanced and consistently a good place to be.

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

The “Halfway There” Evaluation; Goals for What’s Ahead

I’m in the driver’s seat, speeding through my checklist of daily tasks, accomplishing more each day than the day prior.  No longer am I procrastinating on things that I have been fearful of… Taxes?… call a bookkeeper, find a CPA… Credit sucks?… repair that motherfucker.  No new leads?  Call all your friends and setup coffee dates.  All my new found habits are, now, routine… Work, exercise, meditate, journal, write… Turn the TV off.  As Gary Vaynerchuk stated in Tribe of Mentors, “squeezing the fuck out of the seconds [of my day].”  And, that’s what the goal was, but there are times when it feels kind of boring or lackluster.  When I’m not motivated.  That’s when I need to keep my eyes on the prize.  So, with that said, it is time to reevaluate my Quest, see where I am at in each vertical, and see where improvements can be made.

MENTAL HEALTH:
Depression is gone, I haven’t had it in a while now.  I stay busy, exercise, meditate and journal, and with that, my mental clarity has never been better.  I can say that this was the outcome I have been wanting out of all this.  Happiness coincides with mental health, and a positive disposition is key to my growth.

One thing I have learned over the past six months is not to hold resentment against myself for not completing one of my tasks.  If I flup up, I just look back at where I was when I started meditating and regain my footing.  It’s very easy to forget to take care of mental health when I get busy, but it’s also very easy to meditate and doesn’t take more than fifteen minutes out of my day.

GOAL:  Now that I have built somewhat of a foundation, I want to take it up another notch.  My goal for the remaining six months would be to continue with the habits I have made and use them to alter emotional responses that I have.  Those responses include: anger, anxiety, frustration, impulsivity, impatience, and others.  

My lovely girlfriend pointed out that I am picking my thumbs, again.  I had completely quit doing that for a couple months and, all of a sudden, I’m back gnawing those nubs like a squirrel gnaws a nut… Fuck.  Done.  Quit that shit and move on.  I had a short stint where I wasn’t meditating regularly, and for whatever reason, that’s when I started picking my thumbs again.  That also coincides with when I started my new career.  Whatever the root cause, this habit can be put in check, as I recently had it in check.  No more lapses.

PHYSICAL HEALTH:
I have been consistently lean and strong for a while now.  Aesthetically I look pretty good, as well.  My gym routine is solid; I get some cardio (rowing, running, hiking, skiing, etc.), have progressed in my yoga practice, lost weight, have almost rehabilitated my shoulder (I think), and eat an all around healthy diet of proteins, healthy fats and vegetables… with the occasional pizza binge. 🍕

This, simply, just needs to continue.  I’m satisfied with the results, but would like to put a couple pounds back on.  That is going to be dependent on how my shoulder and neck feel.  If they continue feeling better week after week, then I might be able to start lifting a little heavier, again, which would allow me to obtain some mass.

GOAL:  Get in climbing shape.  I want to climb some mountains and I need to train for that.  That is the last missing link in my fitness routine.  Adventure routine, more so.

Which brings me to my second goal here which is something I have been trying to do throughout this quest, and that is to complete one adventure per week.  Whether it is skiing, hiking, biking, etc., just one adventure a week and I feel better in so many ways that I would almost put this under mental health if it weren’t for the profuse amount of sweat that trickles off me.  Anyways, hiking season is now upon us, and I plan on hitting the trail regularly, which I have already started doing.  Mount Saint Helens is coming up in May. #ADVENTURING


CREATIVITY:

I write pretty regularly now.  I am working on writing a book.  I write this blog.  I write in my journal.  This area could still be worked on though.  I spend more time watching TV than writing, so it would make sense to flip those habits and write more than I stare at a big screen

GOAL:  Turn off the TV and write, paint, edit a video, etc.  My goal here is to put whatever time I put into TV & video games, instead, into my creative outlets.

Also, in the creative vertical, my goal is to finish writing a book by the time I get back from Patagonia.

CAREER & LEARNING:
I have started my new career in Real Estate.  I’m ecstatic about that, and although I started off slow in this vertical six months back, I feel like I’ve made insane progress here in the last two to three months.  I have some definite goals (which I’ll keep to myself for now) and way more room to grow here than all my other categories combined.  Watch out world, I’m getting after this one.

As for learning, I am learning a bounty of knowledge about real estate.  I’m, also, reading multiple books a month and applying what I learn to my life, business, etc.  It’s interesting how much reading does for your brain overall.  More or less, my vocabulary seems to be expanding, and my ability to read faster and for longer periods is strengthening, too.  A lot of my ideas start with something I read and expand from there.  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, BITCHES!

GOAL: I want to keep on with two books per month goal that I set for the New Year.  It’s helping me commit to a certain amount of Audible/reading.  I would prefer to spend more time actually reading, but right now, with the new career, I am going to have to commit to the hybrid approach that I’ve been doing thus far.

I don’t know where to put this one, but I think it fits best under Career, since it will likely benefit my career the most, but I need to get up earlier.  630 AM would be a good time, but that also means I need to get to bed earlier.

RELATIONSHIPS:
Oddly, or not so oddly, starting a career selling real estate has helped me reconnect with many people that I had otherwise lost touch with over the years.  Having kind of been a hermit for the last two or so, it’s nice to reemerge from my shell and be socializing again.

My girlfriend and I are on the same page now more than we have been in a while.  It probably helps that I am having some success at work — haha.  I love her and she’s pretty (she made me write that, but I do and she is).  Beyond that, I should probably spend more time with my family and go visit a handful of friends I haven’t seen in a while.

GOAL:  I cannot tell you what my goal is because my girlfriend would get mad at me.  🍑🍆 .  Hahahaha.  Just kidding…. Or, am I?  🤨  No, I totally am…. Or, am I?  I am.

IMG_2487.jpgGirlfriend and me at a show in Seattle meeting my favorite folk singer, Austin Basham.  He was a super rad dude.

In summary, I have completed so much in the last six months, but have no time to rest and way more to do.  I think that once my quest is complete, after I feel that I have maxed out my verticals, well, then, maybe next year I enter TIER TWO.  Also, there are some other verticals that are not included in my quest that I probably would include if I were to revise it…  Financials (money, investments, savings, credit, etc.), adventures (although this is somewhat prevalent), organization, productivity.  I guess you’ll just have to wait for what I conjure up six months from now.

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

PS ~ I have a ton of vids to make a great VLOG, but editing that shit takes so long that I keep putting it off… So, coming soon!

 

…a Little Backstory.

“What were you reading when you decided to do all this?” My friend’s father asked me with honest intrigue as I was turning drinks away while attending a going-away party for my good friend, Nate.  I had just explained my quest to him, my reasoning for not taking shots of Patron, and the new habits I was trying to incorporate into my day-to-day life that were to replace the bad ones.  He wanted to know what the one book was that prompted me to want to rewire my thinking.  I thought for a minute and answered that it was the Tools of Titans and the Happiness of Pursuit that helped me model this period of personal growth.  And although that’s partially true, there’s more backstory involved.

As I drove to Bend yesterday I started thinking more about his question.  Then I started thinking about the circumstances that prompted me to take action and that it was partly due to the books I was reading, but also due to a need for change.  I wouldn’t call it rock bottom, but a handful of missteps and hardships led me to a decision to take life back into my own hands.  Here’s that story.

During the spring and summer of 2016 I became unemployed for the first time in almost a decade.  I had switched careers a year prior, leaving a steady job filled with multi-state travel that I had been at for 8 years and then jumping into an entirely new industry.  In hindsight, it was a bad move.  I liked parts of the job I had been in, but there was a lack of upward mobility available and I no longer felt challenged in the role.  What helped push me to make the decision, however, was a friend of mine who had incredible financial success in the industry.  Well, that and a slightly higher salary coupled with an aggressive commission plan.  The commission plan was the real selling point.

The job was to sell staffing services in the IT and Engineering disciplines to the tech and engineering companies sprinkled throughout the Puget Sound region.  I did a pretty good job at the cold calling (which I hadn’t done in years), setting up appointments and getting contracts signed.  Unfortunately, during my tenure, our agency only filled one of the positions I brought in.  When the company merged with another, a more well known subsidiary of the same brand, they let go a majority of the sales force and management team and started over with fresh faces.  I was one of the fatalities.

There I was left with a year of experience in an industry I did not care to get back into.  Besides the great friends I had made, I did not enjoy my time working within staffing and I started my new job search by looking into tech and telecommunications roles that I thought I might enjoy more.  I also started seeking out roles that would allow me to travel again and oversee a territory.  I interviewed at various companies during this period, enjoyed some time in the mountains away from the daily grind, and finally received a couple job offers.  Long story short, and it is indeed long, I ended up at a network and broadband provider.

The learning curve for me at this company was not a steep one.  Having spent years in telecommunications prior, the technology was familiar and I had more technical knowledge than most of the managers I worked under.  My knowledge was more related to test and measurement, but I had a better than general overview of how a network worked.  The learning curve that was steeper was dealing with the internal practices of the company, what I could and couldn’t sell, and the process of selling fiber connections to businesses and differentiating yourself to an often naïve customer.  I was now learning from the perspective of selling as a Business Class ISP versus selling test and measurement gear to help an ISP with their network’s needs.  I made my first sale a few months after I came on, and, of course, the very next day I was laid off due to, low-and-behold, another merger.

Within a month of coming on board with unnamed service provider, I was told that another service provider would acquire them, BUT, according to upper management, there wasn’t a better time to be employed at the company because of the amazing opportunity that we were being handed… the vast expansion of the network… the huge commissions to come… and there is no intent to remove any of you from your positions.  Right.  The day the merger closed the majority of us were laid off.

My friend, Brandon, had been asking me to work with him for awhile at this point; this is around when my thinking process began to change.  Around the same time, my friend Erik gave me a book, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris, that I began reading.  I liked it a lot but it was a slow read so I downloaded The Four Hour Work Week, also by Tim Ferris, and listened to that on my morning commute to see Brandon.  Having been let go from the last two jobs I had worked at, I decided that I was not wanting to jump back into the corporate world so I took him up on his offer, set up my own LLC and have since been doing freelance sales and working on other business endeavors that will hopefully start to pay off in the coming year.

As I made this decision, I interviewed here and there, even receiving a job offer, but I needed to do this for myself so I turned it down and continued along the path I was on.  The ups and downs of not having a salary are stressful and freelance sales isn’t exactly “starting a business”… it’s basically doing sales without a salary.  It was this stress and others that pushed me further and further into a depression.  I felt like an absolute loser.  I hated everything, including myself.  This went on for a couple months and I became quite withdrawn from my normal self.  Some days I did not get out of the house to even see daylight.  One afternoon I went for a drive to get some lunch and broke down in tears for no reason at all.  Something had to give.

After expressing the angst I was feeling to my friend, Erik, I received some more books from him.  I was still reading Tools of Titans (it’s a 600+ page book and I am not a quick reader).  The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau was one of the two books I received.  I read it relatively quickly and finished the Tools of Titans shortly after.  I then decided that I needed to heed the advice I’d received from these pieces.  That’s when I decided to start this quest.

I took the lessons from both books and mixed them into a concept… Get sober, get fit, get smart, get successful, get financially stable, get efficient, get happy, become a better version of me… and then go to Patagonia.

As a child I was very artistic, always drawing cartoons.  Back then, I wanted to make comic books.  By the time I reached my teens my focus shifted and I, embarrassingly, decided, partly due to troubles at home, that what I really wanted to do was be a rapper.  When I started doing that I was terrible, but in true ADHD fashion, I was able to hyper focus and write song after song through every class I attended and every night that I should’ve been studying.  As I kept going, I got better at it.  I wrote, recorded and performed until I was 25 years old; over a decade of my life – I started at 14 years old.  I released multiple albums, performed shows, networked with other artists & DJs, dressed like an asshole, wore stupid, over-sized sunglasses and thought I was way cooler than I was.  That all ended abruptly when some issues with the studio I recorded at emerged.  I decided that I didn’t feel like networking with the local hip-hop community any longer and I hung up my microphone.  With all the newly free time, I started writing a book that I premptively titled, Emotionally Attached to Detachment.

I wrote often, reaching 70,000 words of text before I scrapped the project due to its lack of direction.  The book was an odd concept, a fictional account of my life that wasn’t really all that fictional.  I was pulling heavy issues like my dysfunctional childhood, an abusive relationship with my mother, alcohol abuse that riddled my 20s, and my, then, womanizing behavior.  I coupled that sadness and despair with some grotesque and over-the -top humor.  The idea was a memoire type novel that correlated the youth and upbringing of a child to a 25 year old fuck-up trying to find his way through life by guzzling booze and chasing women.  If I would have finished, it might have been alright… who knows.  Maybe one day I’ll find it, revise it, and publish.

The reason I bring my past up is that throughout my life I have made decisions to do things and then, often, just quit, randomly, at some point.  Some of those times there was no reason for my quitting, others there was.  When I turned 28 I started a new passion and picked up a pair of skis.  I regularly skied until I was about 12, but had only skied one time during my junior year of high school in the years since.  I fell back in love with the sport immediately and have changed a large portion of my life to reflect that.  That was six years ago come January and this will be my seventh season back on skis.  I have progressed from an average skier then to become a pretty damn good expert-level skier now.  Since then, I have integrated my summers to include backpacking, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities that were influenced by the void left once the weather changed.  My life is better because of it.

When I created this quest I knew I needed a change that was as influential to my life as skiing has been.  I wanted my life to be lead by me instead of just me, sitting idle, letting life happen… like, accepting jobs because I’m supposed to.  These are the underlying reasons why I took this all on.  The books I read helped get me to think about what I wanted that change to be and what I could potentially do.  This year will be spent executing and further defining that.  It’s also why I defined the categories I did.

Creativity:  I missed it, I wanted it back, I want to do something creative again.  Maybe write a book?  I’ll start with a blog.

Relationships:  I deal with anger.  I don’t want that in my relationships anymore.  I don’t want to think negatively about people I love.  I want to be the selfless friend, brother, son, and boyfriend that I can be.

Career/Learning:  This is the most challenging one for me.  I always feel conflicted in work like it’s a waste of time and something I don’t really care much about.  Money is nice, but beyond that, who cares?  I want to care.  I want to do something that I actually like to do.  I don’t need to love it but it would be nice to enjoy the way I make money.  Learning, however, is coupled with career, as I believe they correlate.  The more you know at your job and at life, the better you’ll be at it.  In recent years I have been filling my learning capacity with meaningless news articles that have a profoundly negative effect.  I think learning leads to a better career and a more fulfilling life.  Now I read books.

Mental Health:  Typically much neglected, I think this is maybe the most important category.  Be happy.  It’s that simple.  I’m trying to learn how to.  Now I meditate.  Therapy and counseling is something I intend on doing as well.

Physical Health:  Diet, exercise, physique.  It’s all there.  This one is easy… Get after it, it makes you feel better and makes me better at the things I actually love to do… like skiing!  And, yes, skiing and hiking counts!!

I could’ve added other categories, and maybe I will, but these are the categories I want to work on for now.  I’m sure I will add philanthropy, investment, and others at a later date.  But building these habits now is my priority, and who knows, maybe in about six years from now I’ll be looking back thinking, FUCK MAN, I’M AN EXPERT AT LIFE, NOW.  That would be a rad outcome.

Cheers 🤙,

~Dane

Taking on Distraction & Changing Habits: Quest Progress & Update

Journal-type entry. Update on my quest’s progress. The difficult task of a complete rewiring of the brain.

So, changing habits is harder than I thought it would be and this challenge is exactly just that; a big mothef*cker of a challenge.  But, that’s okay because that was the purpose of it.  So far I have found that it is easy to keep focused on a new activity for a couple of days, but trying to simultaneously turn all these different objectives into new habits and practice them daily, bi-daily or weekly is a demanding process and requires a total rewiring of how I’ve operated over the last couple years, in some instances, over the entirety of my life.

For instance, getting into the gym and exercising daily has been pretty easy so far.  However, only moderate success has been had when trying to facilitate running, weights, hiking, yoga, etc., into a balanced exercise routine.  I find that I can do one or two of these extremely well, but when I do the one well the others don’t get prioritized properly.  And that’s just within the Physical Health vertical that I have, so far, seen the most personal growth within.

Below is how I have done in each category so far this past week:

My Sobriety:  So far, so good.  I haven’t touched booze, and have very little, if any, desire to do so.  It is harder when out and about on town.  Drunk people are definitely more drunk than funny when you are not on their level, which tends to make you want to drink, but I don’t foresee this really being that difficult.  With that said, staying out late with people who are partying hard will likely get clipped from my routine.  After spending Saturday night out with the girlfriend until approximately 2 AM, I was not pleased with how tired I was on Sunday and the lack of productivity that came along with that exhaustion.  Yesterday I was a bit crabby and irritable because of this.

Physical Health:  Killing it so far.  Weight lifts are going up across the spectrum.  My weight is down about 10 lbs.  My stamina and intensity is increasing quickly.  I leave the weight room feeling simultaneously destroyed and euphoric.  I was able to easily hike 19 miles with 6000′ of elevation gain and 7800′ of loss last week (see posts on The Enchantments), and even ran the last 5-6 miles.  I need to put more emphasis on stretching and yoga, although I have been stretching in the sauna, shower in the morning and between sets at the gym.  That is going to be a higher priority this week.

My neck and shoulder are giving me pain on and off… Need to resolve this.  It’s been going on for months.  Also is why I am putting such an emphasis on yoga.

Mental Health:  I practiced some light meditation throughout last week, but not as much as I had hoped to.  One time-save I found is to do my meditation in the sauna after a hard workout.  Doing that pretty much clears the mind and leaves you feeling on Cloud 9 afterwards, plus it kills two birds with one stone.  I would also include my hike through the Enchantments as a boost for my mental health.  There was a drawback though, after doing that physically taxing of a workout I was left in somewhat of a mental fog throughout the middle of last week.  My energy has been pretty good since, however.

My general attitude was mainly up last week with a couple of lulls.  Waking up this morning I felt like I could take the world on, so that’s a good place to start..  There’s definitely been an underlying feeling of stress from outside forces that I am letting have a negative impact on me and that I need to put to rest.  The resolution would seem to be to either cut off the artery that is feeding the stress or face it head on.  I think that is dependent of where the stress is coming from, outlets like media should be easier to control.  But financial or relationship issues should be taken on aggressively to a place of resolution.

Basically: Stop f*cking procrastinating, dipsh*t.

Creativity:  I have mainly been blogging and editing videos for this vertical, but that has actually seemed to give me a creative edge over my prior self and reawakened my desire to write.  I, honestly, think I would like to write a book at some point and  am planning on launching a podcast as well.  I’ve also spent a lot of time brainstorming business ideas and those ideas seem to be getting stronger and better articulated.

“FINANCES & CAREER” CATEGORY HAS BEEN CHANGED:
A good friend of mine, Erik, made the point that finances and career do not go hand in hand and suggested I separate the two of these verticals.  I further liked what Ray Dalio had to say about the topic in his book Principles, how money wasn’t his objective but what followed his passion.  Thus, I have changed Finances & Career to reflect Learning & Career, a category I find that goes hand in hand.  Also, although financials will be a piece of my self-improvement process I will rarely going to post about this vertical, as somethings should be kept private and off the internet.

Learning & Career:  I spent some time reading last week, but have much more improvement to make in this category.  I guess creating the habit of reading is an important step in the process.  This week I will be focusing on this much more than last week.  Also, last week’s mid-week hike kind of threw off a lot of my schedule.  I will not have that same problem this week.

Relationships:  Last week was an interesting week under this vertical.  One of my best friends, Nate, is moving to San Diego for a massive career change and opportunity.  I am beyond stoked for him, however, I am a bit saddened.  His girlfriend, and a good friend of ours, Jocelyn, is not going to be going with, but instead, she is moving in with us.  It will be great having her around and I expect Brandi and her to have an awesome time living together.  Also, I have been trying to make more time for certain people who I have been seeing less and less over the years.

One thing I have been contemplating is:  “What do I bring to the table for my friends?”  I don’t know the answer, but it is something to think about.

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(Picture of Brandi (right), Me (middle), and Nate aka Naterbator aka Babybody (left) – this picture was taken prior quest, don’t judge the beer in front of me.)

Overall, this last week was a lot of fun and I achieved some great things.  I do need to focus more on the overall goal here though.  I have actually come up with an idea to make sure I am “Leveling Up” properly.  The idea is to make a point system where if I accomplish something during the day, I get points based on what it is that I accomplished (i.g. Under the Physical Health vertical:  lifting weights = 1 point; yoga = 2 points; etc).  Then I add them up at the end of the week and see how I did across all verticals.

My biggest challenge so far has been to remove simple distractions that suck the time out of my day.  Getting on Twitter or Flipboard can easily suck hours out of my day and I need to control that impulse.  Once I conquer that, I think there is a lot more I will be accomplishing per week.

Alright, time to take it all on.  Thanks for reading!

Cheers! 🤙

~Dane

 

 

 

Getting Back on the Swing: Week One (1/2 Week) of Sobriety & Self-Improvement

The second half of this week my ADHD has been a bit of a motherfucker.  Last week’s travel with the addition of coming off of an ethanol-fueled week has been a hinderance to my focus, productivity and emotional states.  I have been a little rough around the edges in the 72 hour following my return and it took me until this morning to truly get my brain back in working order.  With that said, I am BACK BABY!  And, now, I’m feeling like I’m in a place where I can start executing and further defining my plan of attack over the coming months and year.

When I got back from Denver on Tuesday night, there was a package waiting on my doorstep.  In that package were two books, both the same, titled Principles by Ray Dalio.  One of my closest friends, and somewhat of a mentor/older brother figure in my life, Erik, had sent me this read as we have been discussing some challenges with mental health and one another’s personal growth over the last couple months (he’s seemingly much farther along than I).  Since last year he has sent me a couple of books – see previous post – that have been insanely helpful, to the point of prompting this journey, and so he sent me Principles to read and deconstruct together.  He also figured that if he sent both copies to me it would force us to actually meet up.  Ironically, and so far unbeknownst to him, I had purchased this book at the airport bookstore in Denver the same day.  Great minds work alike!  Or, is it think alike?  Whatever.  I gifted the copy I had purchased to my friend Adam who was watching my dogs while I was away, as I already intended on buying him a book in the same vein.

So far, this is a very insightful read, and not only at establishing principles, but also as a timeline of economics over the last 50 years (I’m not very far into it – Chapter 3 – but so far I am getting a synopsis of Ray’s life and the events that shaped him and his business).  It’s a great overview for a dumb fucker like myself who truly has no grasp on economic markets, how they operate, trading, commodities, bonds… Blah.  I could take a nap.  Surprisingly, however, it’s been quite the page turner in the little time that I’ve put in; either that or my reading abilities are slowly increasing.  Probably a mix of the two.  See bottom of page for other books I’m reading if you care to know.

Quotes from Principles that I like so far:

  • “You better make sense of what happened to other people in other times and other places because if you don’t you won’t know if these things can happen to you and, if they do, you won’t know how to deal with them.” – Ray Dalio, Principles.
  • “There’s always risks out there that can hurt you badly, even in the seemingly safest bets, so it’s always best to assume you’re missing something” – Ray Dalio, Principles.
  • “It’s smarter to start with what you really want, which are your real goals, and then work back to what you need to attain them.  Money will be one of the things you need, but it’s not the only one and certainly not the most important one once you get past having the amount you need to get what you really want.” – Ray Dalio, Principles.
  • “…meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals and everything I did was for them.  Making money was an incidental consequence of that.” – Ray Dalio, Principles.

Yesterday I decided I have to stop what I have currently been doing for money as soon as I can and find a different way to make some bank.  I am stressed beyond belief, don’t like the uncertainty and inconsistency of these paychecks, and am ready to buckle down and get something else going.  I need a thinking cap because the flipside of that coin is going back to work for another corporation that could lay me off at any given moment – like my last two positions prior did.  I guess that’s partly why I’m doing this whole sobriety challenge/year-in-review thing anyway.  I feel like I am purposefully making myself uncomfortable in a way I never really have and creating homework that I should actually enjoy doing.  I mean, that’s the mission and that’s all positive.  I just need the money to follow because being broke in this world is a bitch and I’m quite fed up of not having a solid nest egg and not being able to go heli-skiing in Revelstoke whenever I want.  I think Nas said that; at least that’s the white guy cliff notes as I doubt Nas would be interested in hitting the slopes with Tanner Hall or Sage Cattabriga-Alosa… I could be wrong.

Speaking of year-in-review and sobriety; I think I am going to make a change to the year of sobriety and change it to sobriety until I finish my trek to Patagonia.  So, One Year No Beer, may turn into a longer period… Thoughts?

I think the Physical Health portion of this challenge is going to be the easiest part.  I mean, how hard is it to open the front door and run to the gym for an hour or so?  Today I had a KICK ASS workout.  Front squats, squats, deadlifts, calf raises, 20 minutes cardio.  We went heavy and I was able to squat 315 for the first time in a while.  Yesterday I incline pressed 95 lb dumbbells for 4 reps and my shoulder didn’t bother me much at all.  Today I was a little low on energy, as I fasted this morning and didn’t have any caffein until after I ate a delicious post workout poke lunch with my friend and workout partner, Jarell.  I’m feeling strong and like I’m almost detoxed from a week of solid binging.  Next week and this weekend are going to rock, but I’ll save that for my Sunday night blog which will include things I need to work on and goals for the week.

6 positives for the week:

  1. Getting to hang out with my brother, his friends and my family continuing one of the best weekends of my life into the week.
  2. Consistently writing, journaling and reading.
  3. Setting up my blog and YouTube accounts properly to get this process all started.
  4. Eating better as of Wednesday night.  Salads were so necessary and I’m already seeing the beer weight drop off after only two workouts.
  5. Amazing friends who pick me up from the airport (Nate & Joss), put me through killer workouts (Jarell), watch my dogs for me (Adam & Bri), and send me books to help me become a better version of myself (Erik).  Thank you all! <3’s
  6. Ran a mile in 6:58!  That’s the fastest I’ve done in years.  I typically never run, but hey, I’m getting back at it now!

Random Mentions:

Here’s a picture of my brother after he saw his house turned upside down:
(For the reference, please see: https://alifetosummit.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/estes-park-the-wedding-my-last-day-of-sobriety/ ).  Everyone involved had a great laugh.

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My friend Brandon sent me this and I thought it was pretty original & hilarious:

For focus I have been listening to this track on repeat and holy shit can I buck out some writing and tasks when it is playing.  I just randomly found it while listening to a playlist on Apple Music.  Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty dope.

 

And, lastly, in case you are curious, here is a list of what else I am currently reading:

  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell for fiction.
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin – I listen to this on tape while I drive or workout.
  • Tao of Seneca for a daily thought booster (also a Tim Ferris recommendation).
  • 52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal – a once a week read (one chapter/week) to help improve mental health over the course of a year (also purchased for me by Erik)
  • Adam (my friend mentioned above), also gave me the Tao of Pooh to read after having a discussion on stoicism and eastern theologies… I haven’t added that to the list quite yet, but it’s on my nightstand.

Cheers!

~Dane

VLOG #1: The Mission

Me, looking like a scrub, explaining my mission.  This is somewhat redundant, as I wrote this out in the first post, but some stuff has changed a bit, and I wanted a video for my YouTube channel.

Are my glasses crooked?  Yeah, I think so.

Here weeeee goooooo….

The Week Before: My Brother’s Wedding & Prepping for a Change

My younger brother, Jake, gets married on Saturday.  I am his best man and am absolutely stoked for the upcoming adventure out to Estes Park in Colorado.  The daunting task of writing a loving and crowd-pleasing speech is still weighing on my shoulders as I have procrastinated my way through week after week of the now-gone summer.  It’s all good, I’ll get it done.

This is my first blog post.  I am going to be doing this blog now for the foreseeable future as I delve back into writing consistently and a quest (of sorts) that I have decided to take on.  That quest is to stop drinking for an entire year starting after my brother’s wedding. This is not because I feel like I am an alcoholic, although tendencies have been established, but instead because I am in need of some focus and think that removing this distraction is going to get me closer to my goals in life.

To make this experience more engaging for myself, I have borrowed from others and used their positivity and lessons to create my own structured plan.  One of those people I am learning from is Tim Ferris and the many astounding people in his book, Tool of Titans, which has had a profound impact on me in the last couple months as I have moved from gainfully employed to home business owner.

Here’s my current thoughts on how I will structure my plan of execution to become sober and more focused in the coming 12 months:

1.  There will be four different aspects I am categorizing everything I do in my life into during this challenge.  Mental Health; Physical Health; Creativity; Financial/Career.  Everything I do is going to be to improve myself within those categories.  I will journal about this daily and post a blog on my progress as I go.  (I am going to go into deeper detail on this in another post)

2.  Removing negativity and growth hinderance.  I also am going to look through those four columns stated above and work to remove the things that are hindering the growth of that particular category. For instance, what keeps me from being creative?  Television & video games are two things that come to mind.  So, those are going to be either removed entirely from my daily routine or rationed out based on performance in other areas.

3.  At the end of my year I am going to have a large reward.  Right now I am leaning towards a trip to Patagonia.  But that is not quite good enough.  I need to further define what is going to happen on that trip and build upon it to create an ultimate goal.  Something like, backpack 150 miles through the Gloopedy Dupedy peaks (Don’t know the name of the peaks in Patagonia) and summit so-and-so mountain.  That’s more what I am looking for and what I am currently researching

4.   I am going to use whatever reward I have chosen as the thing I train for during this time of sobriety.

Now, back to my little brother.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.  And, being his bigger brother is a reward in and of itself.  My entire family will be present and I can’t wait to have a last hoorah as we celebrate him tying the knot with an awesome gal.  I plan on getting white girl wasted.  It’s my last go anyway!

Cheers to Sober October!

~Dane