What a year 2019 has been and what a decade.

At the end of each year, I try to slow down and reflect on what went well and not so well. I like to dig into my learnings to find what I'd like to improve the next year.

Today, I’d like to review my year and share the highlights, failures, successes and biggest life lessons of 2019. It's been a wild ride.

Highlights

The toughest part of life is finding joy in the ordinary. Life is mostly boring routines and things that you forget but there's beauty in it.

Here are the highlights of 2019:

  • I got married to the love of my life.
  • Enjoyed the SPA experience.
  • Went on a road trip to Poland with my wife.
  • Attended the LP concert in Lithuania.
  • Rode ATVs in Lithuania.
  • Played bowling with my family.
  • Rode go-kart in Lithuania.
  • Joined a boxing class.
  • Explored Costa Brava coast, Marbella and Ronda in Spain.
  • Played beach volleyball and street basketball in Valencia, Spain.
  • Joined a blind wine tasting party hosted by The Unconventional Route.
  • Discovered Italy on a 5-day trip with my wife.
  • Hosted my mom in Valencia, Spain.
  • Celebrated early Christmas with my wife's family in Huesca, Spain.
  • Partied on a rooftop in Madrid, Spain.
  • Chilled on a picnic with my wife's family in Santiago, Chile.

Failures

The year wasn't perfect. The biggest failure was expectation management.

In 2019, I failed to:

  • Be patient.
  • Talk and express my feelings.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Write without judging myself.
  • Create just for the sake of it.
  • Stay in touch with my closest friends.
  • Spend more time on creating systems.
  • Save more money.
  • Disconnect from work.

Successes

Despite the failures, 2019 has been one of the most successful years of my life. This year I:

  • I got married to the love of my life.
  • Spent a bit of time in Lithuania reconnecting with my family.
  • Exercised quite regularly.
  • Practiced intermittent fasting.
  • Visited 8 countries: Colombia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Spain, Italy, Vatican City, and Chile.
  • Published 14 posts on my blog.
  • Improved my spoken Spanish.
  • Read 15 books and listened to 6 audiobooks.
  • Worked with great companies in travel, SaaS (software as a service), fashion, ecommerce, and publishing industries.
  • Enjoyed working with professional freelance writers and designers.
  • Earned more while working less.
  • Reduced stress related to work.
  • Separated my personal projects and work by incorporating Lauro Medija.
  • Co-founded and grew Modo Maravilla.
  • Sent regular updates to Life Designed subscribers.
  • Spent quality time with friends.
  • Stayed in touch with my best friends.

Life Lessons of 2019

In 2018, many good and bad things happened. Here’s what I learned in 2019.

We use religion, science, business, war and everything else to answer it. No one knows what they are doing yet there are tons of definitions and ways of life.

My wife and mom in Valencia, Spain.
My wife and mom in Valencia, Spain.

Know what you want. Every time I want to change the world, mostly for selfish reasons I don’t want to admit, I try to remind myself this ancient Indian proverb, “If you conquer your mind, you conquer the world.”

Schedule 1-2 hours just for yourself. For me it’s mornings. For you might be evenings. Having a scheduled block of uninterrupted “me” time will allow you to fully focus on your tasks.

Our wedding.
Our wedding.

I’m tired of waking up and feeling like I’m already behind. I used to be a big fan of rising early, quite often at 5 am, to get more done. But things have changed recently. After getting married, I started questioning my craving for being productive all the time and trying to get as much done as possible. Rising early just for the sake of it won’t improve your life. You must use that time to develop yourself to have a better life.

Anyksciai, Lithuania.
Anyksciai, Lithuania.

What if you’re just a spectator? How can you ensure that things are happening to you and not you are causing them? From our self-centric perspective, it may be easy to assume that things happen to us because we are the cause, but why if the opposite is true? You don’t come up with an idea, it comes to you. You don’t write the book, it enters the world through you. You don’t build a business, the problem finds the way to monetization through you and your skills.

Tulua, Colombia.
Tulua, Colombia.

Developing self-discipline takes time and it consists of decisions made every day. Whether you choose to take stairs or elevator, you develop discipline, whether you choose to eat more veggies instead of fast food, you develop discipline. Choosing water instead of soda, that is discipline. Doing your homework is discipline. Even if you do it and get a bad grade you showed up to develop your discipline.

Klaipeda, Lithuania.
Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Set a “no meetings” day. It enables you and your team to have a free mind and focus on your work thanks to some uninterrupted work time.

Prehistoric humans were no more important and impressive than other mammals. No special skills, no language, no higher self-awareness, and consciousness. Humans were not even at the top of the food chain, they resided in the middle. Our ancestors were fear-filled living beings carefully going after predators and eating the leftovers.

Watercolor painting.
Watercolor painting.

Exhaustion isn’t a badge of honor, it’s a badge of stupidity. Being busy and working long hours is not something to be proud of. Having an empty calendar, plenty of time for yourself and your loved ones is the ultimate achievement.

Competition is irrelevant. Competing kills the joy of the act itself. If you build a business, build it to support your lifestyle, to help others. The moment you start competing, you plague yourself with irrelevant things. Our competitor A is beating us at twitter, let’s create a twitter strategy. Oh, our competitor B is opening a church program, let’s do one as well, but better. You see how ridiculous it can get just to please your ego and win the competition.

Celebrating Isabella's birthday in Lithuania.
Celebrating Isabella's birthday in Lithuania.

There’s another way. There are many things you do on a typical day, but how many things you can do differently? How many times do you challenge the status quo? It’s not about the breakthroughs and discoveries, just about flexing the brain muscle and coming up with different ways of thinking. If you keep doing the same things and getting the same results, maybe it’s time for a change? There’s another way to do things. To work, to rest, to communicate, to sell, to sleep, to eat, to appreciate, to accept.

Productivity boils down to knowing what to work on (clarity) and working on it (focus). All the other stuff is a distraction and oh sweet and satisfying distraction it is to evaluate the next to-do app, take notes on paper and then scan it all to turn into a digital note, choose the best pen or listen to a podcast with a productivity guru promising to reveal the productivity secrets and the list goes on.

Costa Brava, Spain.
Costa Brava, Spain.

You don’t need to do anything. Generally speaking, you don’t need to go to work, clean your house, cook dinner or talk to your annoying neighbor. Your mind is very good at coming up with a list of things to do but you are not obliged to do them. Obviously, there are consequences of not taking care of yourself, not going to work and not building better relationships but you don’t need to do things just because you think you need or someone told you need to do them. It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of noise in the world and ticking another box may feel productive while it’s completely irrelevant to your journey.

Hustle is not sustainable. The modern entrepreneur hustles 24/7 and pushes her dream forward ignoring health, sleep, and family. It’s not sustainable. It can’t be. It’s not about motivation and hustle, it’s about creating better systems and environments that lift the wellbeing and performance of everyone.

Vatican City.
Vatican City.
Rome, Italy.
Rome, Italy.

The world isn’t getting worse. Mass media makes it look like the world is ending so they can rake in more advertising dollars. You’re the product they sell. Invest in better entertainment, books, meetups, conferences, events rather than clicking on the next clickbait promising you the armageddon.

Florence, Italy.
Florence, Italy.

Eyes don’t produce illusions, your brains do. Our worldview isn’t shaped by what we see, it’s shaped by what we think and tell ourselves. Combining all the experiences we create our reality and try to keep it consistent sacrificing living in the moment and observing what really happens in front of us.

Creative work is not machine work. You can’t plan your creative productivity to be 8 hours a day 5 days a week. It’s a complex process and many factors vary from person to person. Lower your expectations, let yourself wander, do other stuff and your creativity will flourish.

LP concert in Vilnius, Lithuania.
LP concert in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The next time someone offers you something for free, think twice about what you’re giving away. When you pay for Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox and any other service you know exactly what you get. When you don’t pay for stuff such as blogs, articles, webinars, and courses, you start a journey with no clear milestones and no clear destination. If you are not paying for it, you’re the product being sold.

Ronda, Spain.
Ronda, Spain.

Tidy up. Keep your environment and mind tidy. Tidying up every day and evaluating if you need another pair of shoes, another gadget, or another commitment can help you get rid of the things that clutter your life.

You’re a human after all and you’re struggling to fight your battles. But the war is not over if you return the next morning with determination and self-love to become the best person you can ever be. You’re destined to succeed if you just don’t give up.

Cocktails in Madrid, Spain.
Cocktails in Madrid, Spain.

You’re grand already. You’re not at the popularity or perfection contest. You have the permission to live.

Favorite Books of 2019

I hope these lessons and things I learned in 2019 will make you think. You get a fresh new start, not only every year but every day. It's up to you to become the owner of your life.

If you are interested in my previous annual reviews, check my life lessons of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.