2022 was one of the most formative years of my life. I would label it my “breakout year” like I ran 1,000 yards in a season after being drafted in the 6th round. I’ve never been more excited for 2023, but that excitement wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging what got me here.
Let’s start with the wins.
#1 – Bloomtech Certification
In August of 2021, I joined the coding boot camp Bloomtech in order to get a certification in Fullstack development. I spent 9 months in the program and graduated in May 2022.
It was hard. I had to repeat three units. I almost thought I had to drop out due to an emotional flare-up when my townhouse was under construction. But I fucking did it. I can write code now, albeit poorly, but I can make ship happen.
#2 – Hired at Vercel
I lucked out with employment this year. Bloomtech had a recruitment partner with Vercel, one of the fastest-growing startups in Silicon Valley history.
At first, I was hesitant to look at the position because it was a sales role. I didn’t want to “lose my technical skills” or be looked at “as a nontechnical person”. Thank God I didn’t listen to that voice in my head. Couldn’t be happier with the company, my team, and my path to becoming an Account Executive with them.
This is the best company I’ve worked for, hands down. The pay is amazing, the product is the best in its domain, and the design and aesthetics of the company are top-tier. And my coworkers? Hyper-driven, super intellectually curious, and no egos. The trifecta of culture.
#3 – Lost 25 Pounds
I’ve struggled with binge eating for over a decade. It’s my go-to way to deal with anxiety and sadness. I spent over 8 years trying to phase out this bad habit, and this was the year I finally made the shift.
I’m not at my target weight of 160 (currently at 173), but there’s no doubt I’ll hit that goal in a healthy and paced way.
#4 – Reduced Narcolepsy Symptoms by 80%
In June 2012 I was diagnosed with the chronic sleeping disorder Narcolepsy. It’s been rough to say the least. Imagine if you had to live a decade with Ambien coursing through your bloodstream at every waking moment.
As a result of trauma-focused therapy, I was able to unwind its symptoms, specifically excessive daytime sleepiness. It’s not gone, nor do I think that is possible, but I’ve gotten to a place of symptom reduction where I feel like I have a new lease on life.
I’m not saying this is the case with all of the millions of other people across the globe who suffer from it, but for me, my narcolepsy wasn’t a genetic disorder, it was a trauma response. And as soon as I was able to treat and release the trauma via therapies like Somatic Experiencing, I was able to reduce the suffering.
#5 – Friends On The Same Wavelength
For the longest time, I’ve felt “intellectually lonely”. My ideal form of entertainment is education. I’d choose to listen to an interesting podcast on almost any topic (mycology, Bitcoin, geopolitics, computer science, etc.) over the hottest NetFlix show 100/100 times.
I’ve finally started to find my people. First, it was locally via Boot Sector events here in Buffalo. Then online via the online writing course Write of Passage and Twitter.
I’ve also started doubling down on existing friends who value learning and personal development.
#6 Consistent Housing
Since graduating college in May of 2012, I’ve lived in over 15 apartments and houses. It was pure chaos. A large piece of that was my internal anxiety manifesting in my actions. Once I started to deal with my suppressed emotions, it came to light how valuable it would be to stick in one comfortable place for a while.
I’m now living in an amazing townhouse that is quiet, safe, and decorated in my own image.
What I learned
There’s winning and learning, there is no such thing as losing. At least, that’s how I’m trying to approach my life moving out of 2022. Below are the most important lessons I took from this past year.
#1 – Stop “Spinning Too Many Plates” At Once
I’ve heard all those famous quotes about narrowing your focus to get shit done. Warren Buffet has an approach that has been dubbed the “25/5 Rule”:
- Write down a list of your top 25 career goals.
- Circle the five most important goals that truly speak to you. These are your most urgent goals and the highest priorities to focus on.
- Cross off the other 20 goals you have listed that hold less importance.
Then there’s the great Steve Jobs quote:
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
Tim Ferriss says focus comes down to a handful of things, don’t burn calories on nonessential tasks to conserve your mental bandwidth. Also, it’s helpful to create a “not to do” list.
For years, perhaps even decades, I had a laundry list of side projects, fitness goals, vacation ideas, and a multitude of other desires that left me paralyzed. The older I get, the more I realize that “less is in fact more”.
This year I will be hyper-focused on
- Fat loss & muscle building
- Writing and growing my Twitter following
- Email subscribers for Unbundl.ed
- Mental and emotional health
- Getting promoted to an SDR position at my current company
No freelancing, little to no social events centered around alcohol, and no travel that doesn’t contribute to my main five goals for the next 12 months.
Let’s get after it.
#2 – Health is Wealth
“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one.”
For over a decade, I severely struggled with my chronic sleeping disorder narcolepsy. It demoralized me. Staying alert and awake at any social event for a period of 12 years was a pipedream. I feared for my safety, and the safety of others on the road, when I was driving, yet desperately wanted the freedom to drive – so I kept doing it albeit the fear and risk.
I’ve been to the depths of the mental health realm and even checked myself into an inpatient program at one point. The thought of finding inner peace felt like it was 17 lifetimes away.
2022 was the year when I turned the corner in terms of mental and physical health. I lost over 25 pounds, I shed some addictions that didn’t serve me, and I’ve never felt more hopeful and centered. I know in my soul I’ll never struggle with suicidal ideation again.
Health is the ultimate form of wealth. I could have been born into a Billionaire family but wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it with all the health problems.
Can’t thank my creator enough for granting me the support and grit necessary to beat my demons and allowing me to find peace.
#3 – Personal Responsibility Will Set You Free
I’ve been working on personal development for almost 8 years now. The idea that “no one is coming to save you” first resonated with me at my first Unleash The Power Within Tony Robbins seminar in 2016.
2022 was the year I embodied that belief. For years I still, on a daily basis, projected blame onto others and the world writ large. Now, at the age of 32, I’m starting to fully embody the principle of personal responsibility. Those thoughts of projection still visit me, but they no longer define me.
Personal responsibility is the foundation of a better life. Without it, you always have an out. You can always shift blame, and therefore inaction, to some outside cause.
Owning my outcomes has placed me on a path of freedom and growth. I will continue to choose to walk it to the best of my ability.
#4 – Put On Your Oxygen Mask First
If an airplane is experiencing turbulence, and you’re traveling with your kids, what do the airlines instruct you to do? Do you console your children and put on their oxygen masks first? No, you get yourself centered, put on your mask, and then help others.
I’ve spent countless hours and mental bandwidth in my life trying to fill up others’ cups when mine was nearly empty, specifically one family member. I moved all the way across the country and spent over 18 months cleaning up a business mess while struggling with extreme dissociation and narcolepsy. The whole experience was a train wreck.
This pattern ends in 2023.
I’m not declaring that I’ll live a selfish life from here on out, or that I won’t embody generosity, but for the next several years I’m locking in a strict focus on dialing in my physical fitness, income, and emotional health before offering large amounts of help to others.
No one is coming to save me, I have to save myself first.
#5 The Quality of Your Life Is The Quality Of Your Habits
“Habits rule everything around me”
2022 was the year of habit building. For 365 days straight I wrote at least 250 words – without breaking the streak. To date, that accomplishment lands in my top 5 actions I’m most proud of. I also read every single day, at least 10 pages, in 2022 – sometimes up to 100 pages in a day. I kept my meditation practice alive and didn’t “break the chain” and sat in silence for at least 10 minutes a day that entire calendar year. I also journaled every day, at least one page, for 365 days.
The results have been transformative. Habits rule everything. If you don’t cultivate them, you won’t ever reach the goals you set out to hit – full stop.
What Gives Me Energy
This year, for the first time, I completed Tim Ferriss’s annual review. It’s a super simple exercise; review the past year and for each week jot down on the pad any people or activities, or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Put them in their respective columns. Then adjust your life by removing what took away energy from you and scheduling in more of what fills you up.
It was eye-opening for me. Around 80% of my standard social activities took away energy from me. I came to the hard realization that any social engagement, that’s centered around alcohol, is something I want to heavily modulate from here on out.
I also realized that dating apps drained me. I will start overlapping my social life with my dating life and set out to meet a woman in either the tech circles, yoga community, or another personal development environment. I also will cut out trying to meet women at bars, because I don’t like the activity and because that’s not where my strengths shine through.
I like going to bed by 9 am. It fills my cup. I hate staying out past 10 pm. I’m an early riser, and 2023 is the day I own it. No more guilt for “being anti-social” or for saying no to people and expressing boundaries.
My life is immeasurably better when I “protect my energy”. I’m not expecting to be sober for the rest of my life, or never be out past 11 pm, but those activities will definitely become the exception, not the rule.
Cheers to a wonderful 2022, and an even more fruitful 2023.