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My 2018 Annual Review

A Year of Failure and Endurance

Prior Years Recap

Now that this is my 4th year in a row doing an Annual Review, it's crazy to look back on the previous years and reflect on the ever-evolving story of my life. It's like every year is a chapter with its own themes and trends that bridge to the one before and after it.

Reflecting on multiple years like this reminds me of Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement speech. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

Today as we kick off 2019, I can confidently say that I am the healthiest, strongest, and happiest I've ever been. I've come a long way since 2014, which was a hard year, and the turning point in my health journey.

In 2018 I accomplished goals I had never even dreamed of. But it was also a year with lots of failures and setbacks. It truly was an EPIC year.

Before we get to my 2018 Annual Review, it'll be fun to run through a quick recap of the last 4 years, to provide a little extra color and context to it all. 

2014 - Resetting the Course: I had just become a partner in my company at age 28, but beneath the career success, things were spiraling out of control. I continued to pile on to my mountain of debt, topping out at $60k. My social life had officially transitioned from wild and fun to reckless and self-destructive. I ruined some important relationships, and was eaten alive by guilt, shame, and regret. A WellnessFX blood test revealed massive liver damage, from the insane amount of drinking I was doing. I lost touch with who I was, and I knew that I needed to change. Late in 2014, I moved back to SoCal in hopes of resetting the course. I cut way back on the drinking, I started juicing, replaced meat with veggies, and I tried to commit to a healthier life.

2015 - Getting Outside and Redefining Play: It was a full year of eating a plant-based diet. I moved home with my Mom and stuck to my plan to get out of debt. I grew kale in the garden and started meditating, something my previous self would have laughed at. I exercised more than 150 times, mostly outside. And I redefined play - I traded the bars and nightclubs for the ocean and mountains. I went on many snowboarding trips, surf trips (Australia, Tasmania, and Cabo to name a few), spent 10 nights camping, and visited 7 National Parks (Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Yellowstone, as well as NPs in Australia, Tasmania, and Thailand).

2016 - Turning Thirty and Having a Blast: I saw the Eddie GO in Hawaii, ate shit skateboarding down a hill in Big Sur, gathered 40 old friends in Tahoe for the Tough Mudder, snuck passed security into the mosh pit at Social D, and road tripped it from the Sierras to the Rockies with my girlfriend and our Mountain Collective Passes. Travel-wise I never left North America, it was the year of the road trip, and I realized that there are so many beautiful places only a car ride away. I exercised 183 times, most of them being more fun than exercise, with 98 surf sessions and 16 snowboarding days. I started a sleep focus and a yoga practice. It was the funnest year of my life, and at this rate, my thirties would far exceed my twenties for fun times!

2017 - Running and Routine: I reduced my travel by about 33% YoY, and also worked way more from home. With the increased time at home, I was able to get into a sweet little routine that I loved. I rarely woke up to an alarm clock or got less than 8 hours of sleep. I did a lot of yoga. I surfed 117 times, which was basically every day there was waves at home. I exercised 245 days, which was by far my fittest year on record. And most impressively, I ran 600 miles, which included my first full marathon which has been a bucket list goal of mine forever. I also officially got out of debt. At the end of the year, I left my company that I had been with for 10 years, and this would set the stage for a crazy career adventure in 2018.

My 2018 Annual Review

"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams." ~Oprah

I'll call this year the Year of Failure and Endurance. It's been a long, tough year, but I'm still standing, and I'm more optimistic and energized than ever.

After a decade with College Works, I embarked on a new career adventure that involved lots of mistakes, failures, a borderline identity crisis, and being back in debt, which sucks because I worked so hard to get out of debt over the last 3 years. But despite the setbacks, I learned a ton and ended on a high note.

As my career was struggling, I was pushing the boundaries of what I thought was possible for myself in endurance sports. I ran a 50 mile ultramarathon. I competed in my first Ironman 70.3. I placed 2nd overall at the Mare Island Sprint Triathlon, and 5th overall at the Big Sur 21-Miler. Most impressive (imo), is that I ran 100 miles/month with 10,000 ft of vertical gain/month, on average. If I add biking and swimming into the mix, I went 2000 total miles over the course of 188 workouts and 246 hours.

Sure, I failed and endured this year, but I also had a ton of fun. Here is a list of my Top 10 Favorite Moments in 2018. I had a couple of the best surf sessions ever with my brother, at La Fonda and Brookhurst St. I had some of my best ski runs ever with Jordan and Derek at Snowbird and Snowbasin, and with Jordan and Ashley at Lake Louise. I shared many trail miles with my trail fam and run crew. I did an epic 4 day trek from Yosemite to Mammoth on the John Muir Trail with some of my best buds. I traveled to 2 amazing weddings. Although I traveled far less in 2018 than in previous years, it felt like I was constantly doing epic things with close friends. I'm so grateful.

As a kid, I wanted to be an athlete when I grew up. I'll never be a professional surfer, snowboarder, trail runner, or triathlete. But I learned this year that being an athlete is a mindset. It's about accomplishing big goals, putting in the consistent work to be better, and being in love with the process. It's not about winning the race, it's about toeing the start line ready to compete, and crossing the finish line in a way I'm proud of. It's not about whether I'm paid to do what I love, it's just about doing it every day.

So sure, I failed and made mistakes this year. But the way I see it is that I'm in the arena, trying to build a life that allows me to surf, snowboard, run, bike, or swim EVERY DAY. In a way, I'm just trying to live my childhood dreams, and that's pretty rad.

Career and Financial

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something. So that's my wish... Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you are scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever." ~Neil Gaiman

Career

After 10 years, it was finally time for a new career adventure, so I left my position as Vice President at College Works at the end of 2017. I had no real plan, I wanted an adventure, and boy did I get one...

I failed, I failed again, and I failed some more. It's like I went from being a leader, to being a failure, overnight. I wrote about the failures and learning lessons in this post, Boxing With Failure, but here's the quick rundown of how things went down after College Works:

  • Plan A was to take over my Stepdad's koi fish business, and that ended up not panning out.
  • I started a business selling gallery wall frame sets through Amazon FBA, and after some big mistakes and poor decisions, I shut down the business and lost $18,000 in the process.
  • This is going to sound really stupid, but the safety net to my Amazon disaster was the $20k in my crypto portfolio, but by the time everything went down, the market had crashed.
  • I was now back in debt and needed to make money fast, so I decided to interview for a real job, with a company called HealthIQ. I met with the CEO for a final interview, and he wasn't feeling me.
  • Interviewing reinforced that I didn't want an office job, so I took another shot at starting a business, this time a solar sales business. I knocked on a shit ton of doors and got my ass handed to me, with $0 in sales over a couple months.
  • I went back to the job hunt with my entrepreneurial tail between my legs. I found a remote sales role with Liftopia, SaaS for ski resorts and creators of the Mountain Collective pass. Perfect right? I flew up to SF for a final interview and it went great, but they ended up hiring a referral of a current employee instead of me.
  • Now I'm even deeper in debt, and pretty lost with what I should do. So I signed up for nutrition school, and with a $4k tuition payment, this obviously only made the debt situation worse.
  • Then I started as a recruiter at TheLions, in a remote, commission-only role. The expected ramp time to close a deal and start making money was 3 months, and despite the fact that I was bleeding money and hadn't had an income in months, I still took a chance. 
  • I ended up closing 2 deals right off the bat in my first month with TheLions, and FINALLY I thought things were looking up. But beginners luck was all it was, and I ended up going another 3.5 months until I would close a deal again.

For the past 10 years, I was the badass Vice President and leader, and now I was having somewhat of an identity crisis... "I suck. I'm a fraud. Maybe I should go back to College Works. Maybe I should give up and get a normal 9-5." I would compare myself to my successful friends who are making 6-figure salaries and buying houses, and just make myself feel worse.

But overall, the self talk was strong, and I endured the bump ride. I failed fast, moved on fast, and learned a lot in the process.

You know how they say to take risks when you're young, when you don't have kids or a mortgage? Well it's great advice, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to experiment and explore with my career. I have pretty low financial overhead, and I still drive my car that I bought 10 years ago that now has 280,000 miles on it. More importantly, I have the amazing support (financial and emotional) from my girlfriend, friends and family to back me up, and I'm super grateful for that.

"Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to success. One fails forward towards success." ~C.S. Lewis

Now that the dust has somewhat settled, I'm happy with where I landed. If I project out my Q4 earnings from TheLions, I should be able to make everything work financially and get out of debt by the end of 2019. I also just acquired my first paying client for my health coaching business, Health MTN. Most importantly, I feel fulfilled with what I'm doing at TheLions and HealthMTN, I enjoy it, and I'm super committed to making it work. I'm excited and optimistic coming into 2019.

Financial

This is my second full year tracking my personal financials, per category and per month, and I feel pretty dialed in with my personal finances. I'm not exactly happy with where they stand, but all considering though, it could have been way worse.

I spent about 5% MORE than last year on controllable expenses... **If I don't count the money I lost in my Amazon business disaster, or my nutrition school tuition.

But once I do count those things, and consider that my income was 50% less YoY because of my career change and going more than 6 months with no real income, my savings are long gone and I'm now back in debt. But let's call this "Educational Debt" - I learned a ton in the process, about business, new passions, and most importantly, about where I'm headed in my career.

Year Over Year Changes in Spending:

  • Fixed monthly bills - 30% increase, mainly due to some expenses, like phone bill, no longer being a College Works business expense, also a 12% increase in health insurance premiums
  • Sports/Activities - 10% increase, due to more race entry fees
  • Shopping - 25% increase, mainly due to a new (used) road bike and running/triathlon gear
  • Credit card interest - $1400 this year compared to $0 in 2017, killing me
  • Food and drink - 0% change
  • Auto and Transportation - 0% change (I love my 2005 Toyota Highlander and I'm taking her to +350k miles!)
  • Travel - 8% decrease 
  • Entertainment - 73% decrease, mainly because in 2017 I lost $1500 gambling in Vegas, and besides for Stagecoach tickets, I didn't really spend in this category this year
  • Charity - 66% decrease, hard to give when you are bleeding money, but I still gave what I could. Gifts also a 10% decrease
2019 goals
  • Get my earnings back to at least what it was as a VP at College Works, which is doable if I project out my Q4'18 earnings
  • Decrease my expenses by 5-10%. I've already decreased my fixed monthly bills by 30%, by lowering my heath insurance, car insurance, and phone bill. And I think I can find wins in the other 3 categories that saw increases last year - Activities, Shopping, and CC Interest.
  • Get out of debt and back into the positive heading into 2020.

Health and Fitness

"I came up with this thing called the 40% rule. It’s basically where you, it’s like a car, you put a governor on a car and let’s say the car can go 130, that governor stops the car at 91 and you’re driving thinking, ‘man, I’m going to fucking floor it but I can’t go any faster.’ 
 
"We do that to our brain. We put a governor on our brain. The second we feel pain, discomfort, suffering, all those words that we hate to say because we’re in this happy peaceful world that we live in now — we stop, we slow down." 
 
~David Goggins

Running

In 2018, road running became trail running, marathons became ultramarathons, and business books became ultrarunning books.

Lots of firsts - I ran my first ultra, did my first triathlon, joined my first run crew, and even volunteered to run an aid station at an ultra.

Lot's of doing things before I was "ready" - I ran my first 2 trail races without trail running shoes. I bought my first road bike a month before my first Ironman, and I ate shit twice on my first ride. I competed in my first 2 triathlons without a tri-suit, and I'm pretty sure I was the only one at the Ironman Whistler not in a triathlon race kit (literally).

My longest run was 51 miles. My best result was a 2nd place finish. Racing took me to Catalina, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, Whistler, and Big Bear, and also took me to deeper places within myself.

I ended the year with some nice looking round numbers - 1200 miles running with 120,000 ft of vert, which is a 100 miles/month and 10,000 ft/month average. And when you throw in 790 miles on the bike and about 11 miles of swimming, that's 2000 miles total!

By the Numbers

Total miles ran: 1200 miles ran

Total Elevation climbed: 120,000 ft climbed

Total runs: 139 runs

Total hours of running: 192 hours of running

Biking stats: 790 miles on the bike

Swimming stats: 20,000 yards (~11 miles) swam

Total swim+bike+run workouts: 188 total workouts

Total hours of swim+bike+run: 246 hours total 

TOTAL MILES: 2000 miles

Racing

Catalina Marathon

Date: March 10, Time: 3:55:59, Place: 27th overall, 5th M30-34

Full race recap here.

Big Sur 21-Miler

Date: April 28, Time: 2:38:04, Pace: 7:31, Place: 5th overall

Full race recap here.

Whoo's in El Moro 50k

Date: May 8, Time: 5h 10m, Place: 9th overall

Full race recap here.

Mare Island Bridge to Bridge, Vallejo CA - Sprint Triathlon

Date: May 27, Place: 2nd overall

Broken Arrow Skyrace, Squaw Valley Tahoe - 26k

Date: June 17, Time: 3:53:47

Full race recaphere.

Ironman 70.3 Whistler

Date: July 28, Swim split: 34m, Bike split: 3h 4m, Run split: 1h 59m, Total time: 5h 46m, Place: 21st M30-34

Full race recap here.

Kodiak 50 Miler, Big Bear CA

Date: August 18, Time: 12h 34m, Place: 30th overall

Full race recap here.

Running 100 miles per month on average, I learned that Success = (Stress + Rest + Recovery) x Consistency. I worked though multiple injuries in the process, and learned to listen to my body (thanks Coach Meghan). I ate shit on my bike my first time riding with clipless pedals, and learned that there are no shortcuts. I pissed blood after a race, and learned how to push myself farther than I imagined.

The funny thing is, I didn't come into the year with the intention to go so big. I had the Catalina Marathon on the calendar in March, but that was it. At first, I thought it was just going to be another marathon, only a little bit harder than my first. But to train for Catalina, I had to get out on the trails, and trail running hooked me.

On Instagram I posted, "I love trail running for the same reasons as surfing and snowboarding. It’s where thrill meets nature. It’s not just about the activity, but the adventure, travel, and lifestyle that it inspires. The drive to go faster or farther, and with more style and flow. Being immersed in the raw beauty of the world, even when I stop to catch a breath - in the ocean in between sets, on top of the mountain about to drop in, or at the vista point on the trail - my breath is constantly taken away."

But different than surfing and snowboarding, there is more of a science to running. It's highly measurable, with tangible goals and results, which I like. As I struggled with a career change and multiple business failures in 2018, my running goals filled the void and kept me motivated.

There is also the strategy of nutrition and recovery that comes with running and training. I attended a Fueling for Endurance webinar which inspired to me enroll in Nutrition School and pursue health and nutrition coaching as a side hustle or potential career.

Running has changed my life. I'm truly amazed at what the mind can endure and the body can accomplish. What started as a little challenge to run a half marathon in 2016, and led to a push to cross a full marathon of my bucket list in 2017, has now turned into a full blown passion in 2018. Running is one of my passions, and it's here to stay.

Healthy Habits

My Habit of the Year was #smoothieaday - I drank a superfood smoothie almost everyday. I wrote about Upping My Smoothie Game on my health blog.

My diet remains plant-based. Home cooking is pretty close to vegan. Eating out is primarily pescatarian. I eat meat sometimes but rarely.

My sleep is pretty dialed in. I go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 7:30 (9 hrs) every day.

Yoga was off and on, and after listening to David Goggins talk about the importance and benefits of stretching, I hope to be more consistent next year. I didn't track this habit like I normally do, and I'm committing to tracking it again in 2019.

I didn't track how many surf sessions I had this year, but I still surfed a good amount, and prioritize surfing over any other activities. If the waves are good, I'm there. If not, I'm probably running. I got the best barrel of my life on a really good day at Huntington in October. I had 3 fun sessions at Ho'opika in Maui, where I got tangled in a jellyfish and thought my skin was melting off. I scored 2 really good days in Cabo, and many good days in Baja, the most memorable being a head high day at San Miguel in the winter, and a perfectly glassy afternoon session at La Fonda this summer.

Also, 22 snowboarding days, split between Mammoth (8), Tahoe (3), Banff/Lake Louise (5), Sun Valley (3), and SLC (Snowbird 2, Snowbasin 1).

Travel

88 days traveling in 2018

Versus 103 days in 2017, 145 days in 2016, and 150 days in 2015

A 15% decrease YoY, and 40% decrease from 2016.

This year, Ashley and I had the Southwest Companion Pass, and most of our travel was between San Francisco and Sacramento. We also flew to Seattle and Cabo using the CP.

My biggest (furthest and longest) trip of this year, and also 2017, were for weddings of good friends.

I didn't leave North America this year. I also didn't in 2016. And besides for Hawaii, I didn't leave Western North America, only traveling as east as Salt Lake City.

I spent 8 days in Western Canada, 9 days in Baja Mexico, and 14 days in the Eastern Sierra. And honestly, these are the places I want to spend even more time exploring or enjoying in years to come.

The most epic trip of the year was the 4 day trek on the John Muir Trail with Derek, Rob and Evan. It was my first backpacking trip ever, and it was beautiful and life changing.

The biggest thing I learned about travel this year is that it's not just about the adventure, but also the friends that are along for the ride. Whether I'm flying across the world, or driving a few hours across California, the experience is far better when I get to spend it with people I miss and love.

Norcal - 26 days

Mammoth - 10 days

Maui - 8 days

Tahoe - 6 days

Baja MX - 6 days

Banff - 5 days

John Muir Trail - 4 days

Seattle/BC - 4 days

Cabo - 3 days

SLC - 3 days

Sun Vally - 3 days

Socal (San Diego, Catalina, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Big Bear) - 10 days

Inputs and Outputs

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

I read some really good books this year. David Goggins inspired me to up my game in 2018, and I highly recommend reading Living with a SEAL and Can't Hurt Me. Rich Roll was also super influential for me this year, and beyond his amazing story in Finding Ultra, his podcast has easily become my new favorite podcast, and is where I first heard or re-heard of David Goggins, Jesse Itlzer, and many other interesting characters (like Iron Cowboy, Ross Edgley, Wim Hof, and Carta Corbett). I read Aubrey Marcus's book Own the Day, Own Your Life at exactly the right time, and that was influential in my enrolling in nutrition school. And James Clear has been one of my favorite writers/bloggers for a long time now, and his book Atomic Habits lived up to my expectations and more.

Books I Read

  1. Principles by Ray Dalio
  2. Designing Your Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett
  3. Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus
  4. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
  5. Living with a SEAL by Jesse Itzler
  6. North by Scott Jurek
  7. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
  8. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Hurari
  9. My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir
  10. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  11. The Coaching Habit by Michael Stainer
  12. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  13. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins

Writing

Favorite Photos of 2018

Above: Squaw Valley Tahoe, during the Broken Arrow Skyrace

Below: Hiking up Banner Pass, during our JMT trek

Looking Forward

2018 was my year to explore, in 2019 it's time to exploit.

Ironman is official and on the calendar for May 11, and I ran 22 miles and rode 66 miles in the first week of 2019. The get out of debt plan is mapped out and in action. With TheLions, I closed a deal on January 4th, and with Health MTN I brought on a new client on January 5th.

The last decade (from 22-32 years old), I lived by the idea that one should prioritize learning over money early in their career. I think I can officially say that "early in my career" is over. It's time to make money, and become a provider for my future family.

I foresee a lot more surfing, snowboarding, and racing in the years to come, and I hope to never lose the child-like enthusiasm to play and have fun. But I also think it's time to grow up a little. 2019 will have a career and financial focus. In 2020, maybe I'll propose, and in 2021 maybe get married. In 2022, maybe have a kid, and 2023 maybe buy a house. Maybe. We'll see...

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