Setting the mood with Ludovico Einaudi.
Catalyst of 2015
December 13th, 2015
For years I have wanted to change my life for the better. I wanted to do more. I wanted to see more. I wanted to accomplish more.
I was tired of living a life where I wasn’t fulfilled. I wasn’t challenging myself. I wasn’t trying anything new. There was always this feeling at the bottom of my heart that I wasn’t accomplishing as much as I truly could. I knew that there was some potential that had gone untapped.
I had been a dreamer for many, many years. I struggled with taking action and creating any kind of lasting change. The idea of stepping out of my comfort zone was a foreign concept. It took a while before I caught on to the idea of pushing my comfort zone as a way to better my life.
Finally one year ago today, I turned the tables and did something that helped to bring many of my dreams and aspirations to life. I went from a “dreamer” to a “doer.”
I know that my levels of success don’t compare to some, but our missions should never be to compare accomplishments to anyone else but ourselves. When I compare myself now to where I was just a year ago, I am light years ahead.
This year I took more significant action than any year of my life. And it was all because of one special project that finally tipped the scales.
The Venture That Changed My Life
As I reminisced about the past 12 months, I stumbled upon an old blog I started years ago that helped me to overcome the idea of my opinions, beliefs and desires being “seen” by other people.
Exactly one year ago today I made a blog post that announced and unveiled Venture 15, a project designed to coalesce all of my goals in a singular place where anyone could see them. As I read my own words, I could feel the tears setting in because of how prophetic they felt. What I was writing was coming true.
Venture 15 is a catalyst for a life of excellence. […] A turning point to jot down in my book of life as a new chapter.
I don’t aspire to do only that which I feel I can do, but to challenge myself to take on things that seem impossible. That seem so far out of my range that it makes my heart jump, my hands sweat, and my whole body heat up and itch out of sheer discomfort.
[…] All the planning in the world will do nothing if I don’t act on any of it. […] I must have faith that I can pull it off.
[…] Venture 15 is meant to be a catalyst towards change […].
Venture 15 was exclusively for my benefit. I didn’t care if nobody read anything I was putting into it. I only had to get over the idea of other people knowing what my true goals and ambitions were. I had to get over the mere idea that someone could, at any given moment, see into a part of who I was. I had to get over the idea of “me” being “out there.” It was terrifying but liberating.
I had to get out of my shell. Not because people keep telling me to. I had to get out of my shell because I was tired of doing absolutely nothing with my life. I was tired of seeing friends and family making progress in their life while I sat and watched.
I was tired of following people. I felt like I had been taught to follow the rules, follow instructions and follow society. And I always felt behind. I was following, not leading.
It was starting to piss me off. It was time to change.
My way of life was only leading me into the shadows of others’ progress and triumphs. I don’t blame anyone but myself. I was a people-pleaser and it ended up leaving a wake of disappointment wherever I went.
Yet, I wouldn’t dare change the past if given the chance. My challenges and triumphs are mine and mine alone. I had to earn them.
Only Light Can Cast Shadows
My time in the shadows, behind the curtain and as a follower has enabled me to see what I truly enjoyed, desired and what mattered most to me.
My desires and ambitions are no longer controlled by other people. I no longer limit myself. My beliefs have changed. My mind and heart is open more than it has ever been.
I dare to challenge everything that I once thought was impossible. What was “impossible” is now only “untested.”
Where I am now going may not be the right way. It’s certainly not the most common way.
“If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong.” I might find victory or I might find failure, but I refuse to live a life of mediocrity anymore.
Only by choosing to commit to creating a better life have I opened the door for the possibility of succeeding. By deciding to try, I have chosen to fight in the arena where excitement can be found and victories had.
I have turned around and seen the light that has cast me into shadows for all of these years. All I had to do was take a step away from a life of shadows and mediocrity and move towards a life of light and excitement.
The only question that remains is, “what changes and accomplishments can I make next year?” If I can do this much in a single year of intentional living, how fucking awesome can I make 2016?
Progress Is Victory
Making change that’s meaningful is hard work. There is no guarantee, but that is no reason not to try. My dad always told me, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” He showed me the importance of asking for what you want and having the courage to reach for it.
If you don’t try, you have zero fucking chance at succeeding. If you at least try, you have a chance at success.
As it turns out, having the courage to step forward drastically increases your chances of success. Trying is a win/win scenario. If you succeed, you get what you want and you win. If you fail, you learn what your limit is and can create a new plan of attack. In other words, you can still win.
Life is quite like an arcade game. You’re fighting through a level until you hit the difficult part and lose all your lives. All you need to do is… “Insert coin to continue.”
It’s not game over if you lose. Just reload the last checkpoint, reset with a new plan of action and try again. As long as you are moving forward, you are progressing. Progress is victory.
Creating an Epic Quest
By turning my goals into an “epic quest” or project, they became more important to me. I followed through with them more than ever before in my life.
It wasn’t until I made it a quest to change my life that I actually did.
I “codenamed” a lot of my projects so that I would recognize what they were while giving them more luster and significance to me. They helped me to conceptualize what I wanted to achieve by turning them into a project, adventure and quest.
Venture 15 → Creating a list of dreams into tangible and actionable goals.
Leap Initiative → Quitting retail and taking a ‘leap of faith’ with my online business.
The Arena → The first challenge of quitting my job: seeing how I can handle 90 days of being an independent contractor. I’m now 200+ days in.
Codename Flight → Learning parkour for the first time AND meeting a bunch of new people.
Operation Quickstep → Learning the fundamentals of neoswing/shuffle. It put me in the mindset to try ballroom dancing for the first time (one of the most profound experiences of 2015).
The Harbor → All of my traveling aspirations and challenges for 2015.
The Underground → Goals that revolve around online gaming and community development.
Mystery Girl Editions → Experiences with overcoming shyness, including the painful failures that act as encouragement to try harder next time.
Forming the Quest
Being able to re-create the impact of Venture 15 is my goal for 2016. This means analyzing what worked well for me in 2015 and what didn’t. The success of Venture 15 can be attributed to the following steps.
1. Sit down and daydream.
You need to be able to take some time away from your life to really begin thinking about what you want to accomplish. These can be little things or massive things. You only need a direction to move towards.
You must be able to be alone. Away from people. Away from the internet. Away from every and any kind of distraction that will pull you away from your own thoughts and desires. This is a practice I continue to do frequently now. Anytime I get away from the world, I like to think I’m going “Radio Silent.”
2. Write down what gets you excited.
Are there ideas and dreams that seem to stand out? That you’ve always wanted to do? The longer you spend being radio silent, the more personal and authentic the results of your dreaming will be.
Begin writing down anything and everything that starts to inspire or excite you. These will help you to figure out what is most important to you at this very moment. They can and probably will change over time. The whole goal is to keep our eyes focused on something and to continue to step towards it.
I had everything from specific goals to influential people in the online world.
The more specific and tangible these goals are, the better. Use phrases similar to, “Run 3 miles in one session” rather than, “Run more often.”
3. Write WHY you want to do or accomplish these.
It’s great to have goals and objectives, but you will get the best out of your quest if you can figure out WHY you want to do them in the first place.
My WHY: “To improve the quality of my life by pushing outside of my comfort zone. I want to become independent and to be able to trust myself by trying things that are ‘impossible.'” Even if an activity or goal wasn’t very glamorous, by understanding WHY I wanted to do it, I would be more likely to carry through with some of them.
4. Post them somewhere.
I used a free blog, but you don’t need to post them publicly like I did. You could just as easily tape the sheet of paper to the wall. It has to be somewhere easily accessible. It has to be somewhere you can see it often.
The more frequently you see your aspirations, the easier it gets to keep them front and center. On top of that, the more ingrained your goals are, the easier your subconscious brain can focus on it and help you to see opportunities to pursue them.
5. Tell someone you trust.
Telling someone about your quest will help you to establish some accountability with yourself and your ally. Don’t have someone to tell? You can always send me a message. I’m always happy to hear what people are working on and want to accomplish!
6. Revisit and revise it often.
Just because you wrote it down doesn’t mean it’s permanent. You should always be moving towards projects and goals that are exciting or help to improve your life. If it does neither, then simply drop it and move onto something new or more invigorating.
I could have made my big, daring changes at any point in the year. There have been times throughout the year where I have adapted Venture 15 to match what I was passionate about at the time. But there’s something psychological about seeing the calendar flip over to the new year. A new beginning.
As the end of 2014 was approaching, I began to think about New Year’s Resolutions. There’s nothing wrong with them, but how many times have you made your Resolutions only to see them fizzle away by the end of January? Most people make their Resolutions just days before – or worse, the night of.
I spent weeks creating my “resolution.” The entire month of December was devoted to shaping the biggest chapter of my life – without realizing the extent of what it would manifest into.
When you are separated from the allure of the holidays and “New Year’s Resolutions” it’s easier to focus on what you want to accomplish. I had plenty of time to daydream and focus on what I wanted to achieve and what mattered to me.
Something was different about turning it into a quest and devoting time and energy to making it as personal and intentional as I could.
It no longer was a New Year’s Resolution. It was no longer a “to do list.” It became an adventure. The closer it got to the end of the year, the more excited I got. When 2015 ticked over, I was all aboard the hype train. And I was the only one on board.
In less than 48 hours I made the very first investment in myself without consulting anyone else. It was the largest and most expensive choice I had ever made at the time. I didn’t seek the approval of someone else to improve my life. I did what I felt was right and it paid off in so many ways. That decision wouldn’t have been made if I wasn’t already in the mindset of improving my life.
What I have experienced through Venture 15 has changed my life. I will never be the same.
Venture 15 has brought me to life. It has been the catalyst for change. Everything prior to Venture 15 has prepared me for this year.
There Is No End
It may be the end of the year, but every “end” is merely an opportunity to begin a new era. It’s time to create the next amazing quest for the next year. I’m excited to spend these last few weeks figuring out what my next huge accomplishments will be and what challenges I want to overcome.
All I know is that I’m ready to make it fucking amazing. I aim to be unrecognizable by 2020. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, but I know what I don’t want it to look like.
By then, it will still never be the end. Only a new beginning. The quest is never about the goal. Even if our goals are very specific, the quest is about improving ourselves and discovering victories and challenges we couldn’t even fathom at the time of conception.
The quest is to get us moving. Only during the pursuit can we find what we really want. Best explained in the Tarzan Method.
Creating a Team for Your Quest
No great quest will make it far without having fellow adventurers to support you. I have been fortunate enough to have an amazing team of friends and family around me who support and contribute to what I am trying to accomplish. Each person or group provides support in different ways.
As you begin to make changes in your life, start asking who will support you. As you embark on your own quest and challenges in life, always surround yourself with people who support and challenge you to succeed.
Consider the Law of 33%.
33% of your community should be a step ahead of you (to mentor you).
33% of your community should be on par with you (to cooperate with).
33% of your community should be a step behind you (for you to mentor).
Or the alternative, Rule of 33%.
33% of people will love what you do.
33% of people will hate what you do.
33% of people won’t give a damn.
You should always be focusing on the 33% that matter: those that love and support what you are doing. Ignore the other 66%. They don’t matter. If you try pleasing everybody, you will please nobody – not even yourself.
Are YOU Ready to Create an Amazing Year?
As I look back at what I wrote on December 13th, 2014, I had no idea at the time just how big of an impact this project was going to make. Yet it was still a pivotal moment for improving my life.
The whole purpose of Venture 15 was to begin mapping out my life, forming a vision of the future, learning to adapt to new challenges and, above all, taking action towards them. I wanted to discover more about myself, learn to accept what I uncovered, create and experience what I was curious about and find what my limits were (rather than assume).
Venture 15 was created to set the course. To get the ball rolling once and for all.
The most important part of Venture 15 is that not only did it create the best year of my life, but it stoked a fire inside of me that has for years been waiting to be kindled.
The question and challenge I have for you is, “are you ready to make your own life more amazing?” I invite you to join me by creating your own epic quest, finding your team of supporters and then totally crushing it. I want to know what you are looking to achieve this coming year! More importantly, I’d like to be a part of your quest and your team that makes it happen.
But you have to start.
If you refuse to try, you have no chance at success.
Commit to making 2016 an amazing year. Start dreaming today. Build your quest. Find your team of supporters.
What do you want to accomplish? Do you need help? Let me know about it.