2016 was a roller coaster. I had some of the highest points and lowest points of my life this year. My second daughter Cabrini was born late December of '15. My oldest daughter was bit in the face by our dog. I hit the highest pay rate I've ever had in my life and then shortly after was "restructured" out of my job.
I spent the beginning of 2016 being very externally focused. As a new father again, I wasn't spending much time working on myself. I was mainly just trying to keep our crazy ship we call our family, moving along. I was coasting along myself and I was feeling more and more empty and unhappy even though I have so much in my life. I managed to kick myself out of my funk and refocused on happiness. For the latter part of 2016 I spent a lot of time looking at myself and my habits and made some small but pretty powerful changes.
One of the first things that started me on the path to getting back to high-performance levels was hearing "to inspire others, you have to be inspired yourself". I had lost a lot of inspiration between moving to Florida, working at a place that doesn't have a positive culture, and the drain that being a new father can bring. But I wanted to be inspired again and I wanted to be happy again. I started training capoeira much more. From there I was intrigued by how to improve physical performance as I start to age in to my 40s. And then like dominoes, things started to come together.
I heard someone else say "You can't lose weight". Which sounds simple enough. We can't just decide or flex a muscle and lose 5 lbs. We cannot directly change our weight just like we cannot directly change our skin color by willing it. We have to decide to do something else, consistently, that will change our weight, like going to gym, running, all the stuff. So often though I/we put the emphasis on "what can I do to lose weight" where instead we should put the focus on what habits or beliefs should I change to then get the results I want. So I've been doing a lot of this in 2016 and plan to do a lot more in 2017. We are opening a new Capoeira academy and I'm not focusing on getting more students, or making my students better. Instead I'm going back a step to reach these goals. I'm focusing on making the classes the best they can be. I'm focusing on being inspired myself. And I'm focusing on helping others. Because I know if the classes are great, and I'm just as inspired as that wide-eyed brand new student, and we are doing good things for other people. How could we go wrong??
Here are some of the bullet point specifics of what I've been focusing on this year. My focus comes in the form of research in to how the top people are doing it in each area, listening to podcasts, interviewing people, and reading A LOT.
Getting my body chemistry right. I try to keep close to a ketogenic diet. I'm becoming a super fan of this. This started as a physical endeavor but the mental improvements I've found have been the real jewel here.
Waking up at 5 a.m. I've always leaned towards being an early riser but now I do it with a lot more purpose. I do my best critical thinking early. Also working out early gives an insane boost to mental productivity. I barely need caffeine now and hope to be free of it completely very soon.
Insane focus on my habits and the results -good or bad - of each of those habits. Then systematically changing them one by one. I haven't changed many yet, but the few I have, have done a lot for me. I truly believe that we are 100% where we are in life because of our habits and not because of any single event, good or bad. Because when those big events come, they are either a result of many, many small decisions that brought us there, or when they are unexpected, our internal structures and mechanisms dictate how we come out of it.
Motivation is fickle. This goes with the focus on habits. But I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to be more motivated when I was depressed. The reality is, the smallest of things can throw off our motivation. If you skip a meal, if you get in argument, if you don't sleep well, if you stay up late, get up early, just about anything. So why rely on motivation for high performance? So instead, I focus on my daily habits to produce the results I'm looking for.
Flow State - I've been obsessed with this in 2016. I've been practicing how to call up the flow state not just in myself but in those around me. Still a work in progress but I have been super happy so far.
I have done a lot of work around returning to a high mental state when things throw me off. I've had a ton of ulcer inducing things happen this year. I've woken up in the middle of the night in a panic more times than I can count. I think I've weirded out everyone close to me with my challenges this year with deciding on the path to take myself and my family on. The difference for me now is that I allow the feelings to come and then leave before I make any decisions. Any decision one makes in a low mental state is always a bad one. You don't want to decide on a new job, moving, a business venture, how to respond to your spouse, etc when you are angry, sad, frustrated, etc. Instead I now try to allow myself time to return to a normal high state, then take my action.
I'm now very intentional with how I start my day and how I end my day. I still have a lot of work to do on this but I've come a long way. I used to end my day just watching some Netflix and going to sleep. Then start my day by just waking up and going through the motions. I now try to either watch capoeira videos or listen to someone inspiring on a podcast. I also spend time thinking about the next day and the things I want to accomplish. I do this separately from actual planning or critical thinking. What I'm doing is finishing my day by internalizing the things I want to focus on. Then when I wake up, I try to bring the world in to focus sharply and quickly. I get my body and mind going right away. Because I want to set the tone for the day. If I hit the snooze button, I'm already starting with a habit of mental weakness.
Starting everything with why. Why, how, what. This is the order in which I approach everything now. By looking at the why, I'm much more motivated to do what it is I've set out to do, or to question if I need to be spending energy on it in the first place.
Not doing the standard pace. Not much to write on this yet but I expect 2017 will bring a lot here.
Doing things for others, but not doing things for others. I think I'll have a lot to write on this next year. For now it means that I'm focusing on helping others but I'm not making life decisions for other people like what job to take or where to live.
Looking forward to 2017 I want to continue along the same lines and dive deeper in to what I started exploring in 2016. My goal is to continue to pursue happiness and bring happiness to those around me. I'm excited about our new capoeira academy and the growth we've already had. I want to get our program profitable so I can begin to work on the next levels of work I've wanted to get to. I'm hoping to be able to take a couple of inspirational trips with my family. In my studies of those I consider successful, this is something most have done. I want to revisit South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Colorado, and California. Lots of other places I'd like to visit too. If I can make at least one of those happen I'll be happy. I'm hoping to find one or two students to try some capoeira performance experiments on. I have some theories I want to start testing out along the lines of rate of progress and performance levels. There's a ton of back end work that I need to complete with putting in better structures for our academy. In all of these endeavors, I want to hold sacred the amount and quality of time I spend with my family. I know I'll be working a lot for the future but I need to balance that with the present.
The people I've pulled the most inspiration from are 1st - my wife Jasmine. I would be nothing without her. Everyone else comes a distant second after her. These include in no particular order Tim Ferris, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins (couldn't stand this guy before, now I think he's really incredible), my best friend and teacher Aranha, my perceptions of European Capoeira, and most of the people I've been discovering through Tim Ferris' podcasts.
If you would like any details on where to find more information about the things I've been focused on just let me know. I'm happy to share.