Bocas del Toro, Panama.
What a year. Today, I’d like to recap and share my highlights, failures, successes and biggest life lessons of 2017. It's been the best year so far but that doesn't mean everything was going my way.
It's hard to choose the best moments of the year as there were so many. I'm truly blessed to have so much fun.
- Chilled on the Gili Air, an island in Indonesia.
- Finished writing my book.
- Explored Sydney, Australia.
- Traveled around Sri Lanka.
- Crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Nomad Cruise.
- Joined the WiFi Tribe in Panama and Jamaica.
- Conquered the ATV trail in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
- Enjoyed cliff jumping in Negril, Jamaica.
- Climbed Mount Batur, a volcano in Indonesia.
- Hiked the Blue Mountains in Jamaica.
This year I had a lot of failures. Life goes on. This year I failed to:
- Stay in touch with family and close friends.
- Keep long distance relationship with my girlfriend.
- Focus on the right things.
- Meditate consistently.
- Invest early in crypto assets.
- Complete writing book earlier.
- Publish consistently on my blog.
- Grow my blog readership and email list.
- Launch my video channel.
- Launch my podcast.
- Focus on conversations.
- Invest time in value producing work and assets.
- Think like an entrepreneur.
- Contain my ego.
- Accept people as they are.
- Limit my access to email, social media and news sites.
- Forgive myself for breaking up with my girlfriend.
- Fight feeling like the impostor.
- Feel like I deserve everything I have.
- Effectively manage people.
- Meet deadlines.
- Set clear priorities.
- Keep interest in important task and goals.
- Write daily.
This year was extremely successful on many levels.
- Stayed in shape.
- Traveled a lot across four continents, visiting 15 countries: Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Latvia, Denmark, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico.
- Met incredible people.
- Improved self-awareness.
- Learned a lot listening to podcasts.
- Followed rock solid morning routine.
- Experimented with the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting and did 48-hour water fast.
- Published monthly lifestyle reports.
- Started contributing to Entrepreneur, Observer, HuffPost, The Next Web, Adobe, adidas, and Influencive.
- Did lots of interviews and podcasts and will be featured in a documentary “Keeping & Saving or How to Live.”
- Read 52 books.
- Published 73 stories on Forbes.
- Finished writing my book.
- Consistently sent out Life Designed newsletter.
- Recorded podcasts for my upcoming podcast.
- Have been interviewed and featured in many publications. My favorite: Typeform, Crowdfire and adidas.
- Stayed with my family in Lithuania.
- Started investing in crypto assets.
- Bought a camera, improved my photography skills and leveled up my Instagram game.
- Launched and grew my Facebook page to nearly 30,000 fans.
- Attended in-person and virtual masterminds.
- Invested in P2P loans and real estate.
- Meditated even if infrequently.
- Disconnected from work and internet for 2 weeks.
- Launched my Patreon and got first supporters.
- Removed 4 wisdom teeth.
- Understood what I want in life right now: deep work, discipline, community, commitment, stability.
- Got an idea of what leisure time I like: ATVs, cliff diving, climbing, hiking.
- Understood that I don’t want to chase numbers and want to do things my way.
- Learned a tiny bit Spanish.
Life Lessons of 2017
Wealth is created slowly. Save one-tenth, live below your means, minimize expenses, invest and make your money multiply.
Only invest in the fields you know something about. An alternative way is to have an expert you can trust, otherwise, your investment will turn into a very expensive lesson.
You don't know what you don't know. Acknowledge that you are blind and there is so much more to learn. Allow yourself to be a no one and observe, listen, you might open up your eyes finally and see what you don't know.
You need to take action and do it fast. There are so many things you want to analyze and try and hypothesize but nothing matters until you take action. Executed 80% solution is better than perfect 100% solution that never leaves your head.
Your path will change and that is okay. What fired you up last year might be completely boring this year. Don't stick to it just to be consistent. You have the right to leave the path you're on and go toward a new direction. The clock is ticking and time is against you.
You're not entitled to anything. It's hard to realize and face the truth that what was given to you can be taken away at any time. In most cases, it will make you very angry and will cause a lot of pain. Stop asking why me, start asking what's next?
Nothing is permanent. The only constant is change. Move fast, take as much as you can and don't get angry when things change. Your job is to adapt and respond in a way that doesn't alienate your core value and philosophy in life.
You're in the maze. Some people figure out it sooner, some later. Your job is to figure out. There are lots of dead-ends and you have to take a lot of steps back. You may get a sense of fake progress to just only face another wall and need to go back to square one. Not all progress is visible. For you, it may take longer than other people but you'll solve it. Keep moving.
It's not your job to take action for other people. I know you want good for your family, friends and loved ones but only they can take action to improve their lives. Your job is to plant the seed of the change, support their thinking, fears and beliefs and be there when they're ready. Don't take it personally, don't force it.
The most important work sometimes takes less than you think. Starting up a business takes less than a week. Creating yearly content plan takes an hour. Defining a clear goal takes less than a minute. Choosing to change your lifestyle takes split second. Just because it doesn't take long it doesn't mean it's not valuable.
Everything you do has an intention. Your job is to set these intentions. Most of the things you do are not in your conscious control. You act on your fears, insecurities, doubts and other subconscious messages that you are not aware of. You'll try to justify these decisions but that's just fooling yourself. Set as many intentions as possible and see how that changes things.
You already are who you want to be. You're an actor, writer, singer, entrepreneur, athlete, artist, photographer, traveler, coach, friend, and lover. You just need to do your job and carve it out. What you want is already inside of you. Let it out. Daily.
Allow yourself to be a beginner. Give yourself a permission to suck. You owe it to yourself. Create your worst work ever. Show it to people and see how it's being thrown out of the window. Hear people say it's the worst thing they've ever seen. Once you do that, there's nowhere to go but up.
Don't take it personally. Whatever that is, an opinion, comment, feedback, insult. If people talk bad about you they're spreading their negativity. If you've been fired off your job, it's not because you're bad, it's because you are not needed anymore if you broke up with your partner, it's not because you're bad, it's just not the right fit.
You're not the victim unless you choose to be. There are horrible, inhumane conditions and circumstances. But only you define how you operate in these circumstances. Don't be a victim, don't let others determine how your story ends. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Living minimally doesn't mean having less. It means having less of more. Buying fewer clothes you kinda like allows you to buy more of the clothes you love, spending less on low-quality products allows you to buy more of high-quality products. Having fewer things lets you appreciate more the things you have. If you're not happy with what you have now, you'll never be happy.
Simplify your life. It's always easy to add something. Another color to your website, a new shirt to your wardrobe, another app to your smartphone, another notebook, gadget, feature, newsletter, book. It all creates mental fog and complexity in life. Simplify your life. Your decisions, environment, work, relationships. It's about taking things away that creates beauty. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
You don't have to run long and lift heavy to be healthy. Your life becomes slower and more sedentary due to the comfort technology has created. Your job is to take care of your body and health. It doesn't have to be an intense CrossFit class or exhausting 2-hour run. It has to be something you enjoy doing, it has to be effortless yet enjoyable. Walk to your office, take walking meetings, make fun of taking stairs, get your coffee in a new cafe, take a different route home.
Don't default to happiness. Happiness is not constant, it's an emotion. You can't control emotions, you can only notice and acknowledge them. What you can do is default to your purpose. Choose something worth suffering for because inevitably you'll have to suffer in life. Defaulting to purpose makes suffering more bearable and as a byproduct, you'll get your happiness.
What you surround yourself with matters. Surround yourself with better people, food, information, energy, diversity, and ideals. You're only as strong as the environment around you. If you surround yourself with champions, movers and shakers, healthy, hardworking, honest and knowledgeable people, you'll become one too. It's easy to eat healthy when the healthy restaurant and organic market is next door.
Notice the little things. Notice how people thank you, notice waiter's new haircut, notice how happy someone feels, notice how bad someone feels, notice how your friend progressed on her weight loss journey, notice how your barista honors her craft, notice how your mom prepares dinner, notice how a stranger opens up a door for another stranger, notice how driver stops in the middle of the street to let young mother cross the street with her children, notice all these little acts of kindness. It's everywhere and it's beautiful. It needs more attention.
Take full ownership. There are things that are not in your control. Weather, natural disasters, economy, other people but you can always prepare for the best and for the worst. Bad things will happen, you can't control that, what you can control is your attitude. Take full responsibility, suck it up and do the right thing.
You have to believe in something. Nothing is promised, nothing is true. You have to choose your side and believe in something. God, humanity, sports, art, politics, nature, education. Life gets hard, ugly and unfair. If you don't believe in something you'll be lost.
Fear is part of you and that is a good thing. Your brain has evolved from lizard brain but that doesn't mean it retired. In fact, it's more active than ever. Every day it helps you survive, it stops you from doing stupid shit and ensures you live another day. It serves you. But to a certain extent. We, humans, have completely redesigned the world and the threats that our lizard brain sees doesn't exist anymore. Notice when your lizard brain speaks and don't let it stop you from expressing your opinion, pitching an idea, telling people what you think of them and most important creating art.
Do the work. The only way you can let your talent out is doing the work. It will not be glamorous, it will not bring you the results right away, it will not make you any better or worse but eventually, it will get you where you want to be with your work. It takes time, you'll sweat but that's how you'll earn respect from others and most important from yourself.
You get what you focus on. If you victimize yourself and always blame others it continues. If you constantly complain, you only find more ways to complain. If you focus on eating healthy, you eat more veggies, drink more water, start moving and cut sugar. If you focus on writing, you read, you sketch, you write. If you focus on being a better friend, you make more calls, you listen, you put others first. You can't focus on everything but focusing on nothing will get you nothing you want.
You need to listen to what is whispered to you. You just got a new job but you hear someone's whispering is not right for you. You just committed to a new project but a week into it someone whispers you it's not worth it. You just moved to a new city and a month later someone whispers you it's not what you need right now. You started working on a business idea and a year later someone whispers you it's not for you. Listen to these whispers, whether it comes from within, environment, mentors, people you trust and anywhere else there might be something worth listening to and taking action.
People come and go. Make sure you let the special ones know what they mean to you. Let them know they matter.
There will be times when life sucks. Let it be. It has a lesson. Most of life is made of boring moments. No need to artificially be happy about it. If it sucks it sucks.
You don’t want to be alone. It’s not that you are scared to be left alone, it’s just that when it’s all said and done, you want to be with someone. Someone to share the moment with. If you care and love each other it will feel even better.
You’ll inevitably make mistakes. Again and again. It’s better you learn to make better mistakes.
Once again, you can’t please everyone. You know it already but here is a reminder to mind your business. People yell at different things because they don’t have more important things to do. Stay in your lane. Give a damn about the things you care about. Giving a damn and pleasing people who don’t understand you is not a good thing to give a damn about.
The world is an amazing and horrible place. It depends on how you look at it.
Write down your life principles. Develop your personal protocol and follow it in order to lead a life without regrets. Once you have your list of non-negotiables your life becomes more aligned and meaningful.
Breathe. Meditation is not just sitting in a lotus position and making weird sounds. It’s a mindful breathing and exercise for your brain. Your body doesn’t care about your fears, motivations and TV shows. It needs oxygen. Give more of it and your body will help you get what you want.
If you don’t challenge yourself you’re already dead. Death is coming for you, sooner or later. Don’t die before you’re dead. Take chances. Challenge yourself, take calculated risks.
Change it up. Living on a tropical island might look like an ideal life in paradise but it gets boring sooner than you can imagine. Then you need a buzzing city life, more hustle, more ambition. Same with everything else. Change food, routine, people you hang out with. You don’t have to keep it that way, just change it up from time to time to experience it fully, to appreciate things you take for granted.
Get dirty. Go out and run in the rain, jump in the puddles, crawl in mud, jump on ATV and ride through the jungle. Only then you feel alive, you feel how fun it is to play, only then you realize how fun it is to shower and lay in a clean bed while drinking tea and reading your favorite book.
Be yourself but don’t push other people by entering their personal space. What you stand for and what you believe in is all about you. Never give up on these things.
Sometimes you need to get really cold to understand the meaning of warmth. Same goes for love, money and purpose.
Having great relationships doesn’t mean chatting every day or every week. It means caring and loving unconditionally and being there when the time comes.
Fear never goes away. Whether it’s fear of darkness, height or being alone, you just get used to living with it. You get used to acknowledging it and doing the right thing anyway.
Do it for the love. For the love of art, for the love of mastery, for the love of self-discipline. Views, likes, statistics can be altered. Do it for the love, not for the likes. If you don't care about getting the credit, you do it for the love of the craft, when you stop caring about the credit you will feel incredible fulfillment just creating, expressing yourself and letting ideas out into the wild.
Welcome everyone with an open heart. It’s hard at the beginning but with time you’ll get used to accepting people just the way they are. Let go of expectations and let people surprise you. Even people who hurt you can surprise you.
Every day you get to start over. Paulo Coelho once said, "One day or day one. You decide."
Happy New Year!