For most of my life, I've considered structure to be in opposition of freedom.
While true on rare occasion, it's primarily quite the opposite - as a river without banks ceases to flow.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2022 I was immediately introduced to a flourishing community thanks to a weekly coffee meetup hosted by JT Barnett (bring them back brotha). At one of those meetups, I met my now good friend Ben Lakoff - who heard me speak about a system I had built for my business and recorded the whole conversation.
Our friendship grew, and towards the end of '22, he asked me what my annual review process looked like. Turns out, an annual review wasn't a system I had implemented yet... and the idea of writing a report felt very... bureaucratic.
I believe my aversion to it was a fear of confronting past decisions (I put things behind me very quickly), disguised as a disdain for work that resembles corporate process; a belief I shed earlier this year.
Instead, breaking my past pattern, I set aside a day to complete the PDF he had sent.
I'll be honest, there wasn't a light-bulb moment, I believe in part because I did it at home... but there was a clarity of action that stemmed from the review. The deeper I dig, the more it's apparent that growth is a game of subtraction.
Additionally, locations hold memory - which made it more challenging to create anew in a home that held emotion.
This is the same reason why my move to LA was so impactful... it provided me the ability to become the person I envisioned myself to be and I no longer played out narratives around those whom I had a past.
Pro Tip: Reinvented yourself before reengaging.
This year I chose to take that lesson and acted on it.
In order to remove myself from that which was known to me, I wanted a place that I had never been. A place that embodied mindfulness, introspection, and inquisition... Miraval Arizona was just that.
It's a stunning property filled with every activity under the sun, and upon arrival I recognized my past pattern would be to use activity as a distraction... because the physical is where I feel most comfortable.
Instead of packing my days, I chose to signup for just three (one physical, two meditative) during my two day stay and to use the remaining time to sit, think and journal on this year's prompts.
What I find fascinating is the physical activity I signed up for(Out on a Limb), provided me the most profound realization about how I show up in the world... sparked by a comment by our guide Damián Del Valle.
Side Note: Part of the Miraval experience for guides is they get to choose a word that resonates with them when they begin their employment... this acts as a way to describe 'Who am I?'. Damián's word of choice is Sonder.
Sonder - The profound feeling that everyone, including strangers passing by, have a life as complex as one's own... which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it.
For the review itself, I created my own variation on the seven questions popularized by Sahil Bloom.
1. What did I change my mind on this year?
A loaded question, and something that I did quite frequently this year... the big three are:
- Marriage - I didn't think I wanted a family for most of my life (fear response). I'm still not certain, but I am open.
- A Large Company - I've oscillated between a large company due to a desire to feel worthy, to an extremely efficient business of one due to a desire to be in control. I've realized what I truly want is aligned endeavors.
- Partnership(s)/Friendship(s) - I used to believe I could do it all on my own due to a fear of being seen, but what I really feared was being held back by others. This became self-fulfilling because I chose alliances with the wrong people to subconsciously make myself feel better in comparison. *There was a lot to unpack for me here.
2. What and whom created energy this year?
At the beginning of the year I changed my iPhone wallpaper to say 'Energy & Frequency,' a constant reminder as to what I would like to stay aware of. This propelled me towards the community, company and consciousness I desire.
- Physical Challenge, Conscious Competition, Energized Community, Insightful Conversations, Solitude & Curiosity
3. What and whom drained energy this year?
The names that fell within this category had more to do with how I showed up for them, than how they showed up for me... I realize that I'm a mirror for experiences I allow into my life. The activities were as follows:
- Alcohol, Poor Sleep (or Oversleeping), Unaligned Dates (To Fill Space), *Obligations, Unintentional Social Media
4. What or whom held me back this year?
An expansion on the above, but more so through the lens of what I allowed to remain in my life.
- Neutral and/or Draining Relationships, Dispassionate People (Lacking Energy), Disconnected CNS (Heart)
5. What did I not face because of fear?
This one was challenging for me to answer because I feel that fear is actually excitement manifest (in most cases), but the recurring theme for me are repressed emotions that I have not yet learned how to express and/or experience.
- Deep Romantic Love, External Judgement (When Not Competent), The First 30% Of The Learning Curve
6. What were my greatest hits and worst misses?
This was a year full of immaculate highlights, four Misogi's, and countless firsts. Here is the highlight reel:
- Failed Marathon (Jan 1st - 19mi), 1st Marathon (June 4th - 3:29:20), 1st 100M Ultramarathon (Dec 3rd - 23:45:55)
- Personal Responsibility For ALL Of My Life & Experiences
- Formation of 3 New Wellness Companies
- Costa Rica Resort Acquisition
- Visited My 30th Country
- Lost My Uncle In A Tragic Plane Crash
- Lost My Grandmother (Age 96)
- Two 'Failed' Relationships -> Which Led To My Most Profound Lessons
- Continual Expansion Despite Perceived Emotional Contraction
- Ignored Actions & Watched Words (Flipped Moving Forward)
7. What did I learn this year?
I truly consider myself a student of life, and as such I'm always learning. This year I read just shy of 60 books, almost 1,000 hours of podcasts, and made hundreds of new friends moving to a new city. The most profound takeaways are:
- The depth of your breath determines the richness of your experience.
- Do hard shit, everyday... your body is infinitely more capable than you think.
- You are not your body, nor your mind. You are what sits above it.
- Perfectionism is not a state, it's a belief attempt to gain control.
- Life is to be lived, never observed. Fail and learn, but never stop trying.
- Your reality is your perception of it. Change your narrative, change your life.
- Perception Creates Environment -> Experience -> Belief -> Thoughts -> Cell Function (Epigenetics)
Here is what I uncovered and/or deepened my understanding of within myself during my stay at Miraval.
1: Feel vs. Vision
The singular physical activity I engaged in during my stay was called Out on a Limb
... in which you climb a 30 foot telephone phone and walk across a log suspended in the air.
I'm not afraid of heights, but I did get a nice dose of 'oh shit' when I get up to the log.
I took a breath and started walking... and when I got to the middle Damián told me to stop and look up (the same experience I had the first time I went skydiving when the instructor grabbed my forehead to make me look around.) I did, took a breath and continued slowly to the other side.
Once I reached the end I decided to go back, backwards. What's interesting is that it was easier for me than forward.
I shared that with the group at the end and what I discovered was that some people trust their vision more than how they feel. I trust how I feel more than what I see. A valuable insight for me in finding continued alignment.
2: Stillness Creates The Experience
On that log all I was thinking about was getting to the other side...
... and if I hadn't stopped I wouldn't have remembered a single step along the way.
This has manifest itself in my life as well as I love to sprint towards my goals - often forgetting to enjoy the process.
If the end of life is death, why am I trying to move through my experiences so quickly?
3: Alignment Flows The Fastest
This year brought one of the most aligned business deals into my life at a rate I didn't think possible.
I've had it in my mind that I would own a resort before I turned 31 for the last decade and when I turned 30 on May 1st I had no idea how that was going to happen, or if it was even in the cards (but I had an intuition that it was). I discovered the property in August via a Bumble date (hell of a story) and we were in negotiation a few weeks later.
Everything for this project from attorneys, architects, funding, staff, you name it... all found me.
The most difficult part was saying no to the other opportunities right in front of me.
If you don't know where you want to go, find alignment first...
... running in the wrong direction only takes you farther from where you'd like to be.
4: Home Is A State, Not A Place
Having traveled extensively for the last 2 year (a total of 14 months on the road) I've had a lot of time to sit with the definition of 'home'. For me, it's never been a place... but a feeling cultivated by the people you surround yourself with.
I've been 'home' and feel extremely disconnected, and I've been in remote parts of the world and felt love.
It's a state I wish to cultivate for others and is why my focus with the expansion of our retreat centers around the world is to create a place where others can go to 'find' home. We say 'find' because it's a state already within us.
It's safe to say a structured annual review is here to stay.
... and if you've not done one yet, I'd HIGHLY recommend you do.
Quote On My Mind:
"Balance is something you create, not something you find."
﹣Damian Del Valle
Take a breath... its depth will determine the richness of your experience.
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INPUTS ONLY PODCAST:
I'm bringing the podcast back... only this time branded in a way that I can create based off my interests, forever.
The focus of the show will be on learning out loud, and interviewing guests to explore beliefs - and their edge.
I plan to release a solo episode on Mondays, and a full length interview on Fridays.
If you have anyone you'd like to see on the show (or yourself) please let me know.
In CASE YOU MISSED IT
In last weeks edition, I wrote about the Tony Robbins Cult, of which I was a part two years ago... and the lessons learned from some incredibly smart businessmen whom were also in that room.
- Never Say 'YES' On The Phone
- Never Be The First To Send A Proposal
- Never Assume Mutual Interest... Even With Friends
- Your Only Limitation Is Your Own Imagination
- Unless It's In Writing, It Doesn't Exist
... and how I ended up on Robert Kiyosaki's private jet.
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