Spiral of Awesomeness II & Goals for 2015

What’s up? We are over a month into the new year already, so its kinda late to be starting setting goals for the new year. And its kinda not necessary this year, as I already set my longer term goals in an earlier post from last year. However, some of those do need a little recalibration so I am going to touch them briefly, but main point of this post is re-initiation of one of my most successful things that I’ve done on this blog, Spiral of Awesomeness.

For those that don’t know nor care to read the original post, Spiral of Awesomeness was an 8-week challenge I set for myself in 2013 after having first been on 12-week challenge to write 3 hours a day for 4 weeks. Not only did the challenge make me work harder than I ever did before and elevate me into a whole new state of mind, it also indirectly led to me in getting my new job. I was scoring very high in my scoring systems at the time. In short, my life was just very well together at the end of that challenge. It had a grand title, but it truly lived up to it, for that period of my life truly was the spiral of awesomeness. I’m still feeling the ripples of it in my life today.

Feeding More Awesomeness into My Life

There’s kinda the sense though that my life has been a mess for a long long time. I’ve not had my things together like that pretty much at all since the challenge ended. After Spiral of Awesomeness, I got my job which completely threw my life off balance. I couldn’t retain the way of life I had had before that, especially since I’ve capitalized heavily on the nature of my job by traveling extensively.

But now travel is the norm. Working every week for 40 hours is kinda the norm, even if I still struggle to do it well – as said in my numbers post, I really only average about 20 hours of actual work per week, so its obvious I’m lagging far behind on what my actual productivity could be. Accepting these things are really what are the start point of embarking on Spiral of Awesomeness once again.

Cause on the surface it appears that if you read Spiral of Awesomeness today, in many ways I am doing more right now than I ever did on Spiral of Awesomeness. So why did I feel so awesome back then, and so shoddy right now?

Engaging Every Day

Part of it is habitual, cause Spiral of Awesomeness was a daily challenge. You had to engage every day. Every day you’d have to sit down and push through the resistance with 3 hours of writing. You always had to earn your keep.

What now instead happens is I kinda go with the flow and dilly-dally around too much, then are forced to engage on massive 10-hour work marathons, scrambling to make it to my weekly required hours. That’s not how I want my life to be. Not only it is stressful, it also takes a lot away from the quality of my work. What if I were to engage for 3 hours every day of the week with my work? I’d actually match my 20 hours of work a week I am currently doing. If I was actually focused and did it every day, even for just 3 hours a day, I’d almost certainly increase my overall output.

Life is built of habits, and I’ve let a lot of good habits crumble. What Spiral of Awesomeness is essentially is a challenge to make sure you retain your habits – all of them, or else its a failure.

You might remember that I actually failed my original challenge. Still it gave me massive momentum and motivation to keep those habits up.

Spiral of Awesomeness II

I can’t do the challenge in its exact, original form. Or I could – but I don’t want to. Frankly it would be too difficult right now to do in its original form. Despite having had my job for over a year, because I’ve not taken it upon me to build proper work habits, its still too straining for my willpower to complete 3 hours of writing / the path and still manage my 40 hours of work a week well. So instead, the sequel of Spiral of Awesomeness will revolve around work, and getting the basic things in ones life working right.

However, one thing that has saddened me in my life of late is that I’ve completely neglected some things of it, like writing. I want to get back on the stride with it, so that will be part of the new form of challenge. There will be also weekly goals to give more sense of purpose to actions that are taken. Let’s not waste further time on explanations, I’ll go through all the different parts of the revised challenge now:

The Work 4 hours

The simplest part of the challenge, just have to put the hours in every day – note this is measuring the time I spent engaging, not the time that my work timer is running. I would guess it takes at least five hours every day to reach this four hour mark daily – some days it might take up to 10 hours.

Writing 1000 words a day / 1 one story a week

I’ve been writing 750 words a day since forever, but now I’m gonna bump it up to thousand. Furthermore, to keep myself from just aimlessly writing descriptions or continuous stream of consciousness like I often do, I am going to set my mind to put out a short story every week – out of 7000 words I write every week, one decent short story should be reasonable to expect.

Working Out at least an hour

In my old challenge I only demanded myself 20 minutes, but nowadays I know that’s just going to lead to stagnation. I have to put the time in, that’s the only way to really take care of your body.

Stretching 30 minutes

I actually wasn’t intending to put this back in, but just now that I read through the original challenge I decided to drop it back in. Why? Cause stretching is not only a break for the mind, it especially is very good for MY body. As much as I’ve started the neglect this part of my old routine, its just made my body to be more and more dysfunctional over time. I need this half an hour, my lifestyle is too sedentary to go without it.

Meditation 20 minutes

Another thing I was kinda on edge if I really wanna do it, but whatever, lets go with it. I’ve never been able to maintain this habit, and I’m unsure if I’ve ever seen any benefits myself, but I am gonna give it one more shot – if I could even sustain it for 2 months in a row, I’d have much fairer opinion of it.

Reading 1 hour + complete a book per week

I heard average CEO reads a 50 books a year so it makes it about a book a week. Even if my record is 14 books a year I’m gonna set that ambitious goal and try to keep feeding my brain with good information. It might indeed take more than the mandatory hour of reading to complete a book per week… This was just an additional goal in original Spiral of Awesomeness, now I’m going to make it a mandatory part of it.

Going out complete a social challenge

As final point of this new challenge I’m gonna add going out regularly to cover all the bases in my Universal Awesomeness Score categorizations – I want to make sure I don’t have any negative marks left on the daily scores. The social challenge I complete my time out will vary and increase in difficulty as time passes on – important thing is that it’s more willpower taxing than time-consuming, for time is not something I have a lot.

Setting a goal for the next day

Another one of my continuous life failures is that I’ve still not mastered this habit. Setting a goal for the next day before you head to sleep is OBVIOUSLY massively valuable habit. I gotta get this down.

Three meals

I know what you are thinking, this should not even make it to a challenge like that. What’s the point, everyone does it anyway? Well, not me. I’m a mess when it comes to basic things in life. That’s one of the bizarre complexities of my personality. I’m advanced on some facets of life, have very deep, well-thought out opinions and views, but on the other end stay skinny cause I constantly skip meals. This challenge takes time, so to not start skipping meals to make more time, I have to include having 3 meals a day as a point in challenge. Failing this will need to fail the whole challenge, otherwise I simply will let it slip at some point.

The Part About “Stop Doing These”

I am going to stop all the same bad habits as last time around, with the exception of drinking only water, I want to keep as much calories going as possible this time around so while I will surely drink plenty of water, I will drink other stuff too. Also, music is okay too this time around.

So there you go, whole challenge that is Spiral of Awesomeness II. Hope it goes well!

Gradual Start

Of course, I won’t jump into the whole challenge right away – I’ll have a transitional week first where I’ll only do work, writing, meditation and reading. “Bad” habits are still allowed for this week as this is only final preparation for the “real deal”.

The Challenge officially begins on February 9th.

Now of course the question is, what about the rewards? Those were the key component that made my original challenge work – just that little bit of extra motivation to keep you going on the lazy moments.

Rewards

Preliminary 3 weeks: Completing this with flaws won’t ruin the whole challenge, but if I do succeed, I’ll reward myself with… something personal haha.

Week 1 – I’ll allow myself to post on Facebook again – if I fail, I’ll delete my Facebook.

Week 4 – Another Hong Kong trip (if I fail, I just go to somewhere else)

Week 8 – full completion – Skydiving & Lake Taupo Bungy in New Zealand

So length-wise this will be similar to original challenge,  8 weeks of main challenge. It’s difficult to complete and I think the reward matches that difficulty.

I also allow myself 3 times of missing some habit – simply because challenge is so hard, I don’t want it to fail just cause I eat only two meals one day for instance, or maybe forget to meditate. So I can make 3 mistakes, and only at fourth one the challenge actually is broken. I think that’s fair considering challenge is harder this time around, and also gives a little bit room for maneuvering. It’s still enough to keep you honest so that the only time habit is missed is when there’s absolutely no time or it’s simply forgotten.

I really struggled to find a compelling week 1 goal but then when it came it really clicked perfectly into place – Ever since I got a Facebook account I’ve been slowly getting sucked into there more and more, but its not actually necessary. I’d feel bad to have to delete my FB but if things come down to that,  I still can do it, so it works perfectly as a reward/potential punishment for failure. And pending I succeed and won’t have to lose the account, it works as easy template goal to set for start of future challenges.

Now that the Spiral of Awesomeness II is all set up, lets have a look at the goals for the ongoing year.

Goals for 2015

As established in my 18-month goal post, I already have a set of goals I’m working towards in the midterm – the end point of the 18-month period followed there is February 2016, so this basically is year from now. I set the following physical goals 6 months ago.

Physical Goals

  • Gain weight until 85kg 80kg
  • Run 3000m in 12-minute test
  • Deadlift 140kg
  • Bench press 85 kg
  • Free-standing handstand
  • Record in chin-ups
  • Become much more flexible
  • Get rid of back pain

Let’s look at the progress made so far in each of these, then revise if needed

Gain weight until 85 kg

Well I’ve dropped weight or stayed about the same over 6 months. I think its impossible to expect me to make it all the way to that target, but its doable to get to 80kg if I improve my habits and work hard. So let’s revise this just to 80kg

Run 3000m in 12-minute test

The good thing about cardio is that I have strong base and its pretty quick to train. 3000m in 12 minutes is very reachable from even mediocre shape in just less than 6 months of training. Even if I’ve not really gotten in any better shape, this is still very reachable goal.

Deadlift 140 kg

I’ve not done any deadlift in a good while, so its hard to say where I stand. However given how beginner I am still with this move, I don’t think its impossible to achieve as long as I put any training in to do it.

Bench press 85 kg

Again, not doing any specific bench press work – my life really changed in terms of me not being able to regularly do weight training. I am working on my upper body and getting stronger, so I’d predict there’s hope to achieve this goal even without much specialized training. No revision here.

Freestanding handstand

Not practicing much, but I’m actually doing good progress on this. Able to do headstand for as long as I like pretty much, also able to hold a crow stand. I think its very reachable goal over next 12 months.

Record in chin-ups

There’s hope for this, but I’ve not once again trained enough. I need to up my training to have any chance. Still doesn’t merit a revision.

Last two goals are more general and vague, so I won’t go through them, they will stand as wanted.

Work Goals

  • Add $1000 / month to income
  • Get one raise over next 18 months
  • Add steady 10 hours / week of oDesk work
  • Work your SEO site to earning 500 bucks a month
  • Start reading 2 hours a day every day (kinda indirectly related to this and didn’t really fit anywhere else)
Add $1000 / month to income

No progress in this one. That said, I don’t see any need for revising, targeting more income is always a good goal and I think its also very reachable amount.

Get one raise over next 18 months

Well even though only 6 months has passed, is basically been two review periods without raises so I think I need to improve a lot soon to reach this goal. But I think its still doable so no changes.

Add oDesk work

As seen above, I scrapped this goal completely. Frankly I don’t want to target this. If I do wanna do extra work, I wanna pour it into my own projects, not into working more for other masters.

SEO Site

This has actually taken steps back. I had hacker put phishing page into my site so the rankings took a heavy hit, of course not updating it in a while didn’t help either. It’s a shame cause there’s still potential, and I do believe this can be improved and goal ultimately reached – I just dont know how I am going to have time for all of this.

Start reading 2 hours a day every day

Given this is more of a habit thing I guess this might be done at any point, I am definitely reading more now that few weeks ago, the process has only started though.

Social Goals

  • Approach people when abroad and get used to talking to strangers
  • Look to express yourself with less barriers, more freely. Knock people off the fence so that they either like you a lot or hate you.
  • Learn Portuguese at least to such extent you can have basic conversations.
  • Retain your freedom by not committing into anything yet.
  • Become calmer, kinder, less judgmental – generally just keep ironing out the personality flaws.
  • Get a social circle of friends wherever my journey takes me next. Retain and deepen the existing friendships.
Approach people

This is something that has to become one of the main goals of the year, one that I’ve definitely not done enough progress on. It’s just matter of willpower and getting the habit going.

More expression

Despite failure in the first one, this second one is already showing significant improvement. While I might be still a bit scared to offend some people, I’m getting better all the time, just cutting layers of pretense of my personality all the time.

Learn Portuguese

Well this whole staying in Thailand thing kinda threw me off this goal, I know very basic stuff only. Should this be on the backburner and should I be focusing on learning Thai/Asian languages? I think yes, but I don’t have to completely drop it anyway. Maybe by next February I’ll be in Brazil anyway.

Retain freedom

I had honestly forgotten I had this goal, haha. And I was honestly considering to let go of at least some of my freedom. But let’s keep this, for this is actually very good and self-aware goal. I need freedom right now, it’s deeply tied with my other goals and living situation, and the phase in my life.

Becoming calmed & kinder

I’m doing good progress on this one, I think. A girl recently told me “oh I’m so polite” which is ironically exactly the opposite of what the previous girl said. Shows that pain and failure is a good catalyst for growth.

Get a social circle

Trying to make progress on this but honestly not so good so far, I’m struggling to retain the relationships I build. Still, it’s a good goal.

In Conclusion

So yeah, these goals didn’t need that much ironing out in the end. They are all very doable goals. Combined with Spiral of Awesomeness, I have a good idea of where I’m headed at over the coming 12 months. If I achieve even half the goals set here, I will be happy – the most important goals for me to achieve are the social goals, then physical goals come secondary to it. Work goals are actually the least important for me right now, but obviously all of it is important.

Spiral of Awesomeness has in it built enough time for everything, to make progress towards all of those goals. After the 8 weeks is gone, my life should look very different already than it looks now. This is really only the launchpad to the next level – most fuel is burned escaping the gravity of the old life, and once you’re at the orbit, you’re kinda just floating around, doing corrections but not having to expend so much effort any more. That will be the next level shit.

Year of Universal Awesomeness Score – Analysis

I finally have a bit more time, so I thought to have a closer look at the personal tracking I do, if there’s any interesting insights to be gained. If you are not familiar with UAS, please familiarized yourself first in this post.

Love for Statistics

I’ve been always obsessed in statistics and been done self-tracking since 2009. In the current form and system though this was the first full year that passed, though had I tracked all of 2013 with this system, I believe that it would’ve had higher score. I worked a lot, but let other areas of my life slip a little bit. There’s lies, damn lies and then there’s a statistic. I’ve not really ever believed in that though, I do believe that in these numbers there’s some patterns and insights to be found that can be useful for future, so let’s delve into it.

Strong Start

One of the first things I was suspecting was that strong start for the week was important for the overall score of the week – the idea being of course same as in my recent video about it. So I sorted the weeks based on Monday’s score and had a look, expecting a strong correlation with best weeks. Starting strong wasn’t my forte last year though, as I only scored over 50 points on one Monday. However, that monday score did give the expected result – it was also the most productive day of the year and 2nd best all-time using this system. Second on the list was 37-point Monday, much slower start but still strong enough to spur me into 2nd best week of the year – so two best mondays of the year resulted in two best weeks of the year… I rest my case.

That said, good Monday didn’t for sure guarantee an overall good week, as rest of the top Monday scores are part of mediocre weeks. However, all my top-5 weeks are also within top 25 % of Monday scores, so you do need good start of the week to get a really good week, but just cause you start right, doesn’t mean that you won’t fizzle out – its still just a start. Tuesday seems to correlate even more with the strong weeks, my year’s top-5 weeks are all in top-6 of Tuesday scores. So while Monday can still be slightly slow, the momentum simply has to step up on Tuesday, otherwise there’s simply no chance of getting a week of great scores. Funny enough while I surpass 50 points only once on Mondays, there’s actually four days I pass that magic line on Tuesdays.

Further Weekday Analysis

Generally the higher score days tend to go to my weekends, due to me usually being forced to work more as I have to rush work in and then squeeze a lot out of myself. Wednesdays though have only high score of 53 and no other scores surpassing 50 point marker. There’s no need to go into closer analysis about rest of the days, but suffices to say that all the really high scores of 70-90 range are on the weekend.

The weekday averages have much more interesting story to tell – while I often started the week with lot of hope, averaging low but not terrible 8.5 point average, my efforts fizzled out into laziness of midweek. Yes, Tuesday might have more peak scores than Monday, but average actually is only 2.8 points, in other words I took a lot of heavy negative scores during the year. From Thursday on all the weekdays average over 20 points, peaking at 32.6 point average of Saturday. 32 points that would be among top scores on my early weekday top-lists is actually the average! Just tells the story of my perpetual life cycle of past year where I rushed in the weekends to get all my work done in just couple of days when I could’ve done it more evenly during the week.

Activity Analysis

So what does an average week in my life look like? Well, I do writing and videos (things I’ve defined as my “path” activities) for bit less than two hours, part of my 21-hour workweek (counting only effective hours), read whopping 1 hour a week, exercise roughly about every other day, and also stretch for 1.5 hours per week. Doesn’t sound too bad though obviously for getting more, I’d need to do more. I’m working about as much as average person right now, considering normal 9-5 workers usually don’t get many effective hours into their days. My physique is alright, but you can’t expect anything more from the effort I put in.

One thing I was strongly expecting was a big correlation with work hours put in and my scores. In fact, I’ve been worried if work has too much effect on the scores given there’s massive quantities of it. However, while it is a good indicator of an excellent week, it was much less of a one than I would expect, showing that the scoring system works – if you’re living your life like shit, even working hard doesn’t help, as evidenced by my 33-hour workweek which ended in a negative score.

My best week of the year ranks only sixth on the list, meaning that balanced approach is important in this system, just as it was always intended. There really isn’t any consistent correlation with any activity in terms of high scores – on my best week I clearly hauled a massive amount of points from my absurdly high water intake and nice and high protein intake – indeed with average amounts on those the best week would’ve been decent but nothing noteworthy. I scored over 100 points higher than normal in those two areas. At that point it becomes kinda system breaking but extremes can distort almost anything. There’s no reason for anyone to drink 45.5 litres of water in a week. That said, we shouldn’t study only success, we should also study failure. Perhaps one such correlation can be found on the other end of the scores?

Bad Week

Avoiding bad scores could arguably be even more important than achieving those high scores, so lets have a look if there’s anything we can notice to be a clear sign of a failing week so we could make that a priority when it looks like week is slipping away. To my relief, there’s only two weeks in my year that slipped completely into negative score – that being said, achieving negative score in my system is hard, and you actually need to be kind of a trainwreck to achieve that.

Ironically other of them is week 8 where I worked 33 hours, a decent amount by my standards. So work harder clearly isn’t the answer when week is going badly – my lowest work weeks are almost never among the worst ones. Not that they are amazing either, I think for a top week at least 20 hours is required, but not working does free up time to do other stuff that racks up the points. I don’t think working all the time is be-all, end-all goal of anything so in that regard my score does indeed reflect awesomeness of the weeks well.

I’m tempted to think that lack of exercise could be one of the things that pull everything else down with it. And there’s some correlation sure, but given I had 12 weeks on the year where I did no exercise sessions at all (no wonder I’m so out of shape), you’d think there’d be clearer correlation to see. It is clear though that most bad weeks had lack of exercise as uniting factor. However its not as simple as just exercising hard to make a week good – Week 35, where I got nice 9 exercise sessions in, only scored 51 points.

Our search for one key thing to a bad or good week ends mostly unfruitful though. There’s no one activity you could do to score strongly in my system – perhaps its a sign that the system is working as intended, grading the overall awesomeness of person’s life pretty well.

Conclusions

Looking overall at the numbers it seems clear good weeks are generally well-rounded – I just have my shit together well. Not only they have reasonable amount of work done, nutrition is usually alright and I’m working out well. On similar token, bad weeks are all around bad – while I might have one area of my life working on some weeks, I just am a mess generally, skipping workouts, not working very hard and eating poorly.

Of course, that last thing can drag your score down so much it doesn’t even help to work hard. It should be noted that as things stand, every day starts with 3 negative marks worth total of -25 so basically at the beginning of the week the score is -175 points. Once you complete your daily goal, have gone out and interacted with people and done your workout, all these negative marks have been unchecked, but its an interesting thing to consider when looking at the score. Most of the year, I missed out on my daily goals, but I don’t really have a statistic about it – most of the time my days would have -10 on them from that. Also as I was home more than 50 % of the days, I also got the other -10 of not going out.

Also as earlier stated there was lot of weeks where I didn’t workout at all. So with all the activities I did, I often was just making up for the negatives that those caused. Taking the time to set and complete a daily goal has massively disproportionate reward in point system, but for a good reason, as it is a valuable habit. Similarly just spending that little time working out is worth much more in points than any other activity – combining +6 of workout and removal of -5 from no body maintenance makes it an effectively 11 point reward. Highest return for time spent of course is going out – just doing that half an hour a day and getting your mouth moving is effectively 10 point 30 minutes, plus whatever + scores you get from it. It is that for a good reason, as it takes a lot of willpower for a shy guy like me – which is exactly why it often was left not done by me for so many days.

For next year, I will combine more of these individual statistics into my tracking spreadsheet to gain even more insights. As said, statistics are bit of a passion for me. Even if there’s nothing new to learn really, I just love looking at the numbers. Call me weird, I say its fun and intriguing.

Drop me a comment if you feel you’re up to it.

Looking Back at Year 2014

It’s once again that time of the year – end of it. It’s time to go through my annual wrap-up for the year.

Where do I even begin. It’s been quite a year.

2014 was distinctly different year from the previous two years. My life was very unstable as I spent nearly half of it traveling. It was also emotionally unstable with my relationship ending right in beginning of it and having everything after that dissolve away only after a little while. From highs to lows its been a year of extremes. Overall I can look back at the year with pride, but I also can’t help but to feel what might have been if I had put in even more effort. Also, all the adventures that I had come at an expense that wasn’t perhaps necessary. I’m just gonna write a little bit of a chronological summary, then we will go through some goals and numbers and then I’m done. As for goals for the new year, I will get to that after I’ve done some contemplating about my life during the first few days of 2015.

Unpredictable 2014 – From Low to High

The year obviously started with me at probably the lowest point of my life, or arguably at least one of the low-points of my life. I was absolutely destroyed by my messy breakup (rarely they are not messy). So for the two weeks in Malaysia, I was just feeling blue, which was then rocketed into very high after traveling to Hong Kong/Macau and having a great experience there. What followed was months of grind, but to be honest I wasn’t at my most productive mode. However it was required for me to get all set for my Brazil trip, which was a success, even if I in the end felt I could’ve done so much more. However it is so far one of the best periods of my life and I feel very blessed to have experienced it. I’m sure that everyone who was there remembers it for the rest of their life. I also popped by at Istanbul after the trip, extending it to 52 days of straight travel, longest time I had ever been away from home at the time.

Of course, that record was already sure to be broken as I had booked my trip to Bangkok. What was supposed to be a bit over two-month stay has ended up being already nearly three months without end in sight, spanning 3 countries in Asia and ending up changing my plans.

In the end, I traveled over 160 days in 2014 and visited eight countries, something I didn’t expect to happen when the year was starting. But all the achievement is with a bitter aftertaste of what more it could’ve been…

Goals I Set for 2014

I once again set very extensive goals for the year, its time to do a bit of evaluation on how it went.

Main Goal of 2014: Becoming Social

  • Approach at least five people every day / go out for at least an hour daily FAIL
  • Approach a total of least 100 people every week FAIL 
  • Approach at least 10 people a day online every day. FAIL

End result: SPECTACULAR FAILURE

I approached 3-4 people I think all year, let alone 100 people a week. This is a case of complete goal-setting miscalibration. I messaged a lot online, that’s the only thing that happened. I never set the habit of consistently going out cause it turned out to be way too hard goal for me – it was like a weak nerd setting a goal to start doing reps of 100 kg in bench press from the first session.

I obviously could’ve done much better on this, but when my starting level turned out to be being so anxious I can barely get out of my room on some days, doing something like 5 approaches a day is simply utopia. One thing I did do though is become more social over the year, but it wasn’t a massive improvement – the above goals are still way way too ambitious for me. I also didn’t spend enough time in big cities to consistently work on this – as said, where I come from I can’t really practice. So bottom line here is that I simply failed this goal spectacularly, but it was complete mismatch to begin with – simply a mistake in my improvement of goal-setting skills.

Let’s then have a look at the secondary goals and how I fared at them…

Secondary Goals

  1. Traveling to Brazil for the World Cup SUCCESS
  2. Working at least 6 hours every day FAIL
  3. Gaining weight until I reach 90 kg FAIL
  4. Using my own book to improve my nutrition – then in turn improving the book as I go along. FAIL
  5. Writing at least one story per week. FAIL
  6. Visit at least two other new countries besides just Brazil. SUCCESS
  7. Start reading at least ten hours a week. FAIL

I failed most of my goals once again. Some of these were too ambitious again, but some just show how poor this year has been in terms of me instilling new positive habits.

Only aspect of the year that I succeeded was the travel – I went to Brazil as planned, and also visited 6 other countries, 5 of which were new countries to me. So on that goal I way overdelivered, but at the expense of everything else.

I go through periods where I do work 6 hours a day, but that’s not at all consistent. As for my weight, here at the end of 2014 I’m standing at 72 kg which is actually nearly 10 kg less than I was at the beginning of the year.

My nutritional habits are the same or worse and I haven’t really have had time to get back into my book that’s already over 2 years old – feels like yesterday when I hit publish on that.

The saddest I am about my lack of writing though – the whole year was a disappointment in terms of writing. I say I didn’t have time, but as we already know, that’s never a good excuse. Writing one story a week was actually very well-proportioned goal, very achievable yet still sufficiently challenging, but no. I have had my writing habit completely destroyed this year. There’s been no consistency in my life whatsoever.

Biggest Successes and Failures of 2014

So let’s take a bit closer look at those two extremes of the year – successes and failures.

Top-3 Successes

  1. Traveling a shit ton.
  2. Improving my social skills to the point that people don’t believe I’m shy anymore.
  3. Bouncing back from failed relationship well

Look, I don’t wanna sink into too much negativity in this post even though there’s lot of criticism I have in store for myself in this post – but let’s face it, it was an awesome year. I traveled a lot. I jumped a bungy, I hiked around a volcano, I attended World Cup matches, and I somehow ended up in Taiwan to end the year. Eight countries, over five months abroad, anyone can be proud of that. I saw and experienced a lot. And while I failed on my social main goals hard, the overall goal of becoming social was still something of a success since I am now at a stage where I regularly hear I’m not shy. The year didn’t start on best beginnings but I managed to turn the bad situation on its head well and even the failed things after that I managed to keep bouncing back without too much wallowing in depression.

Top-3 Failures

  1. Lack of experiences in relative to amount of time traveled – leaving so much untapped potential.
  2. Getting out of whack in all important habits
  3. Lack of consistency in… anything.

While it was an undeniably cool year where I experienced a lot more than the average person, for someone that traveled over 160 days I only can think of “what might have been”. I don’t feel like I’ve been pushing for the edge as hard as I can. I look back at the year and think its amazing, but can’t help but to wonder how amazing it had been if I had made better choices. Better choices in time management, better choices in terms of courage, just pushed more for the full experience. I had a rich experience, but it could have been richer.

The rich experience came at a cost – I failed spectacularly at maintaining all my staple habits. From working out to reading and writing, I was doing nothing of it with any consistency. That’s why I’m ending the year out of shape and with poor work habits. Was it worth it? I don’t know, I don’t think that’s the right question – I could have kept doing it – there’s nothing that makes it impossible to work, travel and still retain basic habits that keep one in shape both mentally and physically.

2014 in Numbers

As usual, thanks to my extensive tracking of my activities, I end the year with bunch of numbers quantifying the effort of the past 12 months. Let’s have a look over those numbers to see if they reveal something new to me.

The Path activity 93 hours

Less than 25 % of the last year – as you might know, this mostly constitutes of writing but includes stuff related to blog etc. – which is ironically most of what I did on this matter this year. I didn’t actually write much of fiction which is very disappointing. Also very sad since I’ve gotten lot of props for writing and its been always a thing that while sometimes makes me wanna tear my hair out, also is very rewarding to do in the end.

High Value Work 991 hours

Technically this should be about double considering the actual hours I’ve put in, but as said, I only count the effective hours in my tracking. Last years number got doubled practically, so it explains where most of my time went. Satisfying, but this really should be higher as well.

The Grind 31.5 hours

Massively loses to last years number continuing a trend set from previous year – which is a generally very positive development, meaning I’m actually spending my time in doing valuable stuff, instead of letting mundane tasks get on my way. Perhaps though this dropped too low and is indicative of some negligence, but can’t really say for sure.

Total work 1115.5 hours (3.05 hours / day)

To my surprise (?) the total work number actually went down – I’m not entirely surprised as I felt my overall working habits have been in shambles, but at the same time I’ve been under increased stress all year so I expected the number to have been slightly bigger. What happened instead is that the hours itself stayed about the same, just how those hours were allocated changed. That being said, being able to maintain similar workload while mostly traveling is not all that bad outcome, but really this is something that should be significant improvement, not stagnation. I don’t think that the ceiling of my work ability is this number, after all.

Footy 37.5 hours

Another sad trend continued – my most beloved hobby is getting completely trivialized from my life. It’s bizarre considering how easy football is to do regardless of the location. I get it travel makes things hard sometimes but am really finding it hard to explain such a steep drop. I really need to get back into the groove.

Playing Games 140 hours

There’s not really accurate tracking on this once again, but for sure from what I have I can say that this number dropped significantly. It had to, otherwise hours in a day would have not been enough for everything I did. Not a bad development at all.

More Numbers: Universal Awesomeness Score

Universal Awesomeness Score has now been in my use for a full year, unfortunately for most of the year my scores aren’t all that impressive – for good reasons, I haven’t really been living up to my own standards.

Top-5 Weeks

Week 16 – 440 points

Week 3 – 391 points

Week 15 – 383 points

Week 32 – 321 points

Week 1 – 274 points

I had a bit more over 300 point weeks but the highest tip is lower compared to last year’s. In the end though just looking at best weeks of the year doesn’t appear bad in terms of UAS.

Average week 125.4 points

This is where I take it up the ass hard from last year. To my defence lot of last years scores were based on old system so its unfair to compare. I talked about being above 400 points per week on average next year – well I got nowhere close to that.

I won’t do daily top-5 like I did last year due to being pressed for time, but I’ll say this – even my best day this year wouldn’t have made it to the last year’s top-3. Sadly I didn’t have any real peak days which in turn led to average being so bad. I’d be happy if I could score an over 100 point day early on during the year to set the year to right tone.

The Best Posts of Year 2014

My blog surpassed 100 posts this year, and even though it wasn’t the most active year in terms of putting out posts, I’m still happy about improvement in content. Here’s a few posts I picked out that stood out for me:

100th Post – On Shortness of Life

I feel I was spot on in this video. In terms of general vibe an conveying my message, this is best I’ve done. The view is beautiful and the content is actually something I’d watch myself, I feel really good about this one.

Spectator Society

Half-baked idea turned out into pretty insightful post.

Courage and Fear in Modern Society

The bungy is of course the highlight of the video but the message is also an important one and despite shooting it by hand with phone camera while being sick, it turned out to be decently executed as well.

Honesty

This one gets the nod cause its a massive video that took me a while to film while in Istanbul. Many locations, as for the message I still agree with it but I definitely feel there needs to be Honesty, Part II where I further elaborate on my views.

Secret to Success

I liked this cause it showed more my travel experience and this kind should be more what my videos are about.

Things Will Go Wrong

This gets the nod simply cause its highly relevant post to everyone.

Alright, that’s it, I’ve been talking for over 2000 words once again, I hope you got something out of it, see you and here’s to having a great 2015! Tchau!

Take on the Call to Adventure

Time for my final unpublished video, this time shot on the December 10th, the day when I was supposed to return to Finland. Find out what happened instead and why…

There, so my life took quite a twist and because of this, I need to rethink a lot of things.

What do you think? Drop a comment below.

Secret to Success

Now I have bit of a treat here, as in this few minute video I will reveal you completely from top-to-bottom the real Secret to Success – check it out now!

Yeah I think I pretty all conclusively expressed it there, I don’t need to add anything.

Comments, questions? Add them below.

Travel is a Microcosm of Life

I was in Chiang Mai shooting this video back in early November. Let’s check it out!

So yeah, this was basically just me communicating the very basic idea relating to shortness of life that the days are numbered – and travel really drives that point home as the days are numbered and often very low. Normal people have even shorter trips than me (which in fact often proves useful as they use those trips better because of increased urgency) but even my usually around month-long excursions make that timer on each of our heads really perceivable.

Perhaps you’ve felt it yourself during your travels. If so, drop a comment below.

There’s No Lasting Happiness

As my Bangkok trip was winding down, I became reflective on the nature of happiness and how its always fleeting away from us, so I decided to shoot a quick short video about it. Check it out below.

Just some things to add cause the videos message seems kinda bleak, that happiness is impossible to achieve.

I am not saying that. And while it sounds like banality to say no-one is happy all the time, it still bears saying cause most people act as if they’d need to feel happy all the time (and resisting the moments when they are not so satisfied makes them feel miserable, even worse than they usually would).

My basic message in the video is that you should go for the rich life-experience that has all the highs and lows – of course trying to avoid the lows, but not fearing them either, just accepting them as a part of the full scale of human experience.

Another thing I want to add is that instead of striving for happiness, what you want to strive for is being engaged by life and pushing your limits. Your enjoyment of life will increase as a result. But as said, no one feels titillated or even content all the time.

At the same time, do all the things you can to feel happy as much as you can, of course, but don’t make your life purpose to feel happy at every moment.

So yeah, that’s what I wanted to pound at you this time, hope it wasn’t too banal, drop a comment if you have anything to add or ask!

 

3 Things I Learned from 100 Travel Days in 2014

To celebrate my 100th day abroad during 2014, I decided to make a video about few key things I learned out of the process. These turned out to be very universal concepts so even if you’re not planning to ever spend months in foreign countries, they are still worth reminding yourself about just to keep yourself on the narrow path.

Now that I’m actually pressing publish I am far beyond 100 days already (think something over 115), and once my Philippines trip is over I will end my 2014 travels at whopping 145 days abroad. Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand and Philippines have been the 7 countries that I’ve visited during these days. I will probably write some kind of post talking about the overall experience of a year and other insights on travel. Stay tuned, exciting times ahead.

Getting Things Right From the Beginning

Today we are gonna delve into a video I made now almost three weeks ago in Pattaya, where I talk about how important it is to get things started right and get everything right from the beginning. Ironically, the video itself turned out a counter-example – what happens when the things go wrong right from the beginning.

I in fact thought I should perhaps scrap or reshoot the whole video, cause its honestly one of the worst videos I’ve made, but at the same time, it beautifully illustrates, how important it is to get things right from the beginning. So let’s quickly go through what went wrong – So first off, I didn’t take a tripod with me, cause I had in the past done solid videos without it when I had friends help me. Then I felt shy to do videos in more public places, so I ended up in a place without much of a scenery and poor lightning. It could’ve still been fine, but I guess my friend would’ve needed more coaching about helping with my camera, it was really shaky and she didn’t have me centered at all. Also it becomes obvious I’m glancing at my notes on my phone because of that.

How To Get Things Right

So let’s quickly reiterate what I said in the video. The initial momentum you have to whatever you’re doing is what sets everything on the way. If you’re out of the gates fast, it makes rest of it easier. But the race isn’t over just after the beginning, you need to keep up the intense pace after that too. So what does this initial momentum mean in more practical examples?

Well for instance, the best thing for me to do first time coming to a new place I’m traveling would be force myself to interact a lot with people at hostel, and have going out with a friend set up already. That why immediately set myself into a social mode in this new environment.

In Istanbul I completely failed to do this. I really had my first fun day out only two weeks into the trip and that was already the last night of the trip. Had I had that night first night, I would’ve been able to have like 1000 % more fun during that trip. Why? Cause I would’ve been familiar with more of the city and in a more extroverted mode. But just because I’ve started trips with extroverted nights its not enough yet – This Thailand trip is a good example of starting things strong (by my standards, meeting up people with regularity, but then having it all kinda fizzle out middle way – which kinda ends up meaning I have to start again almost from scratch.

It works in everything. If you set out for a diet, your first bet should be being out of the gates fast by completely changing what’s in your fridge, then getting the first few days perfectly. If you can’t follow diet even few days, what hope you have for a longer term change?

This is not to say you can’t ease into stuff, but major changes seem to happen with burst in the beginning and then riding with the momentum, and keeping it up. It definitely seems bursts are much more effective way to go about life, but as always, know yourself – what works for me might not be what works for you.

In the end, you never start from completely zero, nothing exists in a vacuum.

If you wanna berate my latest video, do it in the comments below!

Zone of Awesomeness

Today we are gonna redefine what being out of your comfort zone means in my first video from Bangkok… Check it out below.

I was a bit out of it after exhausting flight to do a video, but I think I got my point across and the main thing was to push myself. I failed to do that in Helsinki and wasn’t about to let that happen again. It is all a part of building momentum for this trip. I know the start is gonna be slow anyway cause I just get so unbelievably anxious at first.

Anyway, lets get to today’s subject. As detailed in the video, by Zone of Awesomeness I am referring to that zone out of your comfort zone, pushing your limits.

Just by mindlessly doing tough acts isn’t going to bring you success in itself, but it still beats doing nothing which is why I would always err on the side of challenging myself more.

Of course, there’s the point where you go beyond Zone of Awesomeness, and instead go too far and actually detriment yourself. That happened to me in the army – it was simply too much for my system and instead of making me tougher, it broke me down, at least on a certain mental level. Even then I’d say it did give me certain toughness, at least when I get stressed I know I have experienced worse.

For most people, challenging yourself too much is not a problem. Our lives are too lax, too easy. Learning the habit to push against The Flinch, as Julien Smith calls it, is very useful.

It trains your mind to do what you tell it to do despite the circumstances. Despite being tired, despite being anxious, despite whatever it is that is making you uncomfortable. It is teaching you to not give in just because of some inner, or even sometimes some external resistance. No matter what you feel, just doing it as you planned.

Just doing push-ups on sharp rocks doesn’t develop a well-rounded awesomeness into you, though. It will make you pain tolerant and gritty in a certain sense, but it wont make you any less socially anxious (speaking from experience). That’s why everything you do, you have to find the Zone of Awesomeness in it, not just push yourself in one area.

In some things, Zone of Awesomeness doesn’t even necessarily mean uncomfortable things. It just means the mundane and the repetitive – like practicing some hard new skill with ball when playing soccer. You try and you fail, and you try and try. Most people just kick around when they practice, but you instead focus on whats hard and not so fun. In the end you will be better player even with same quantity of practice. You’re willing to go beyond fun and easy forms of practice.

Zone of Awesomeness exists everywhere and you can always expand it. For some people it might be something as simple as looking someone else into the eyes and resisting the feeling to watch away. For other peoples it might mean crossing the English canal by swimming, or something crazy like that. Hell, those two might even be same people – you can be in incredible shape and still be completely socially anxious.

That’s why its important to push it in the every facet of life and make it a point to push your awesomeness every day. It needs to be a habit. You need to be asking yourself, did I reach the zone of Awesomeness in what I just did?

If not… Well you can always fix it now. One more time. One more effort. When you feel like quitting, going on a little bit longer. It all stacks up over time and makes a big difference in the end. That’s why its important to have a positive mental narrative of it as opposed to seeing it as a drudgery without a point. Even if it in isolation is kind of pointless, you can still see the bigger picture by saying fuck yeah, I reached the Zone of Awesomeness today, and its a small brick in my palace.

It will then become easier and easier to push into it – but at the same time to really push it you need to be doing more and more. I’m all about taking our lives to the limits they can go. I’m not the most extreme guy myself, for me on a day like this it is more than enough to just get a video done, but it builds onto that momentum and to reach my Zone of Awesomeness its gonna take a lot more at the end of the month. I hope I still keep reaching for it every day. Setting the tone right from the start is important.

Drop a comment if this made any sense… or especially if it didn’t :D

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