2018 in ~2018 words

Most people sleep about seven or eight hours a night. That leaves 16 or 17 hours awake each day. Or about 1,000 minutes. Let’s think about those 1,000 minutes as 100 10-minute blocks. That’s what you wake up with every day….It’s always good to step back and think about how we’re using those 100 blocks we get each day…How many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed?…

https://waitbutwhy.com/2016/10/100-blocks-day.html

I feel like I say this every year, but I honestly can’t believe the year is almost over. In addition to the year having flown by, I also turned 30 this year which puts life in perspective. According to a survey from the Social Security website, a male in the US who was born in 1988 has a life expectancy of around 81 years. This means I’m 10 years from reaching the theoretical halfway mark in life. Kind of crazy to think about…

Given that I am a very reflective person and that I like to try and learn from all my life experiences, it’s time for me to write a post reflecting on all the major events of 2018. Then, after recapping the major events, I’ll try and find a few themes of the year. In visual format, this post will be broken down as follows:

  • 2018: Event Recap
  • 3 themes of the year

Let’s get to it!

2018: Event recap

Most of my posts in this blog have been long-form with about 2,000 words per post. For this event recap, I’m going to try and change things up by creating a list of the events for the year and then providing some background information as I see necessary. The events below are in mostly chronological order.

  • The South Bay Area and Madrid are very different 😦
    • In short, at the end of 2017 I moved back to California after living in Spain for 1 year. In that year in Spain I went to school and then worked for a Spanish company and really lived like a local. I learned Spanish, had my Spanish friends, and fell in love with the metropolitan lifestyle.
    • The transition back to the US was tough in the beginning, however, to my surprise I assimilated after a month or so. I still miss being able to take the metro everywhere, the outgoing nature of Spanish people, and all the history of Spain – but my experience abroad was amazing and I’m grateful I was able to do it. Additionally, my experience in Madrid gave me perspective on life and made me realize enjoying life outside of work is also important to me.
  • Joining a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist
    • Upon my return to the US I started looking for a job. After working in the corporate world for almost 3 years I knew I did not want to do that again so I applied to all the local tech companies including Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc.
    • Through serendipity I ended up touring a venture capitalist firm in Silicon Valley and the CEO happened to have a position he was trying to fill. After getting to know his teams better the CEO offered me a position and just like that I found a new job.
  • Miles: “I have had enough of these tinder dates, I’m not looking to date anymore. I JUST want to make friends.” Life: Sorry, what? Please meet this amazing girl…
    • Earlier this year I was in full swing as far as dating goes here in the Bay Area. I’m sure dating in any big city is very similar. Essentially, as most of your day is spent at work, people leverage apps like tinder, hinge, coffee meets bagel, and bumble to supplement the network of people you can go on dates with. At one point I was on all 4 apps and was going on 1-3 dates a week.
    • Although it was fun meeting people from all walks of life, I got tired of the whole process of meeting up with random people for drinks, conversing for 30 minutes, and then repeating. With all that said, one day I decided I was over it. Rather than trying to find a girl to date, I was going to go out and just try and grow my group of friends.
    • I still remember it very clearly, it was a Friday night and I didn’t have any plans. There happened to be a meetup at a local nightclub for people new to the area between the ages of 22-35. For those who live in the South Bay Area it’s pretty well known that the guy-to-girl ratio is pretty bad as far as guys go. In other words, most events like this end of being 80% guys…Having experienced this ratio many times, I wasn’t super motivated to attend this event to be honest. However, I had a running bet with my roommate to get 2 girls phone numbers a month without the use of any apps and I still needed 1 more number to not lose the bet, so I decided to check out this event.
    • At the club there were a decent amount of people and the ratio of guys-to-girls didn’t seem as bad as I thought it was going to be. I immediately noticed this cute girl sitting at the bar by herself but figured she was probably with someone as, in my experience, girls this cute aren’t typically alone. I went up to the bar to order a drink and to my surprise the cute girl said “hi” and introduced herself to me. As it turned out, she was there alone as she had recently returned from living abroad and was trying to meet new friends. Given that we were both there with the same intentions, we decided to team up and meet people as a duo. We were expert networkers that night and met tons of people. In the end though, her and I got along better with each other than we did with anyone else so we just stuck together. The night ended with lots of dancing and laughing and like that I had a new partner in crime.
    • As we were both relatively new to the area we started hanging out more and more. What I loved about her was she was down to do anything. We watched movies and then discussed them over drinks, we played video games, we got drunk and sang karaoke (turns out she actually sang and produced music so when she sang the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. When I sang…well, I tried my best 🙂 ). Anyhow, for the first 1-2 months we hung out strictly as friends and I honestly had no interest in becoming anything more than that.
    • There was something about her though, we just got along so effortlessly and our conversations just went on and on. I’m a sucker for great conversation and there was no lack of that with her. Then, one day we went to this comedy show together. The show sucked so we decided to bail and go smoke hookah. We were in our usual deep conversations when I realized I was starting to have a thing for her. This was tough for me to handle as we had become really good friends by that point and I didn’t want to jeopardize the friendship by telling her how I felt. On the flip side though, I made a commitment this year to speak my mind at all moments so I didn’t know what to do. In the end, I decided to tell her how I felt (I realized later this was the first time in a while I wasn’t under the influence of alcohol when I told a girl how I felt about her…it was harder than I thought it was going to be…)
    • We took things slow in the beginning to make sure we both wanted the same thing. With time though we ended up becoming more serious and seeing each other more frequently. More on this below…
  • I’m finally starting to get the hang of things at work! Wait, no, no I’m not…
    • About 6 months in to my new role at the venture capitalist firm I felt like things were finally starting to turn around. I was building out my network and was getting the hang of all the processes. Things looked good for a while, but then I started to get overwhelmed with all the tasks assigned to me and I wasn’t doing a good enough job delegating to my team. This lead to another few months of hard lessons and taking heat from our leadership about not meeting expectations.
  • I (re) learned that happiness comes from the inside
    • Things with the girl I was dating were going great for a while. We did a lot of activities together and we always had a great time.
    • There came a moment when I felt like things started to change though. We weren’t getting along as well as we used to and we started arguing more. I started to feel like I was more into the relationship than she was and I didn’t think this was a good sign. The irony is that in one of my recent relationships I had been through this same situation except I was on “less into the relationship” end so it was interesting to see things from the other point of view. We tried talking things out and for a little bit things seemed to be better. With more time though we fell back to where we were.
    • Then, on the week of both of our birthdays, we both came to the decision that things just weren’t working out. The hardest part about the decision was the realization that I still had feelings for her and, because of that, it probably didn’t make sense to try and be friends as I needed time to get over her.
    • This made the break-up extra hard as I essentially lost a good friend AND the girl I was seeing…The next 2 months were rough, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Having had close family members pass away I really feel like the feeling of a break up is very similar to when someone passes away. There is essentially a void in your life.
    • Someone told me once the best thing to do after a breakup is to use all that painful energy and use it towards bettering yourself. That is exactly what I decided to do. After going through the necessary healing process I realized (yet again) that happiness is something that is internal. I’m now at the point where I am very content with my life and where I’m at. Not to say I’m not hungry to achieve more, but I am able to take a step back and appreciate the moment.
  • Taking the driver’s seat as far as finances go
    • “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson”, Dalai Lama
    • When I look back on 2018 it really does seem like the year of growth. The girl I recently ended things with, who I refer to above, was really a blessing in disguise as far as my life goes. Beyond helping me better understand the types of qualities I really appreciate in a life partner, she also helped me remember the power of being in control of your finances. From a young age she had been very conscious of money and those skills paid off as she got older. Seeing the freedom she had in her life because of these skills awoke a part of me that had disappeared after I quit my job in 2015.
    • I realized the power money could have in my life. I also realized that, apart from a few exceptions here and there, financial prowess, like success, doesn’t happen by accident. In the words of Gary Keller, author of The One Thing “Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.”
    • With all this being said, I decided to take a proactive role towards my finances. Sure, in the beginning I am starting with things like paying off high-interest debt and building an emergency fund consisting of 6-12 months of expenses, things that may not be as sexy as bitcoin or Tesla stocks, but like building a house, the most important part is building a strong foundation.
    • With time though, once my foundation is built, I will learn more and start building out my wealth. I’m looking forward to posting about my progress along the way.
  • I finally started being disciplined at the gym again
    • I have been talking about wanting to get in shape for the better part of my 30 years of life. However, I have never been able to stay consistent once the obstacles of life get in the way. I finally decided enough was enough though. If I was going to say getting in shape was a priority, I needed to show that through my actions. With that being said, I have started to make the gym one of the highest priorities in my life and I treat it the same way I treat eating dinner or sleeping – it is just something I have to do, it’s no longer optional. So far I have reached 16 days of working out (the 16 days weren’t consecutive as I went to China after 5 days of working out…since then though I have been pretty much consistent) and I plan to keep this pace moving forward.
    • I realized the gym is mostly a mental thing. Now when I wake up, there is no rationalizing whether I should go or not or whether I got enough sleep the night before. I am waking up and going to the gym. If I wanted more sleep I should have slept earlier. Period.
  • I’m started blogging every week and documenting my journey towards my goals
    • In addition to the gym I decided I was going to start blogging every week. Knowing I wanted to eventually build a personal brand I figured it would be a good idea to start learning how to write out my thoughts on a regular basis and start getting feedback.
    • So far I have written 9 posts (including this post) and will have written a total of about 20,000 words by the end of 2018. Granted I still have a long way to go as far as creating good content and organizing my thoughts go. I’m much more seasoned as far as what it takes to write a long post. I’m looking forward to taking some classes on building my brand and applying the lessons to my blog.
  • Starting to see traction at work, and this time it’s real
    • In short, 2018 was a year of learning. Learning how to be a leader on my team. Learning how the b2b sales cycle works. Learning how to stay organized and ahead instead of always being reactive.
    • 2019 is already shaping up to be a better year than 2018 as I applied many of the lessons learned from 2018 to finish the year strong.
    • The version of Miles going in to 2019 is smarter, stronger, more experienced, more confident, and hungrier than the 2018 version. I see big things happening and am looking forward to sharing them.

3 Themes from the year

Though there are probably a large amount of lessons I learned/could have learned this year, the major themes I took away from all the events that took place can be classified in to 3 different categories:

  1. You can’t boil the ocean all at once
  2. Motivation is fickle
  3. Pain + Reflection = Growth

I’ll end this blog post by elaborating my takeaways from these ideas.

1. You can’t boil the ocean all at once

I’ll never forget something I heard a famous investor say about life lessons. The investor’s name is Naval Ravikant and he said something along the lines of “you can read about all these life lessons in books or hear them from friends or family members, but, unfortunately, it’s not like you hear them once and they are internalized. Many of these lessons are learned through tough experiences and then reflecting on your life.”

Not being able to boil the ocean all at once is one of those lessons. After returning to “normal life” in the US I got very excited with all the growth opportunities in front of me. I started a blog, I started working out, I started an e-commerce shop, I started reading about real estate, I started waking up early, I started meal prepping on Sunday, I started meditating seriously, I started writing in the 5-minute journal every morning, I tracked all the family members I wanted to keep in touch with on a regular basis, etc. I’m sure just reading through that list was tiring, let alone trying to actually do all of those things.

After about 6-7 months of really trying to do everything, but honestly not really being able to do any one of those things well, I realized I probably needed to focus on less things and do those things well. This way I can really start to build a unique set of skill sets rather than being mediocre at a lot of different things.

With that being said, in 2019 my main focus areas are in 4 main buckets:

  • Building a strong financial foundation
  • Improving my storytelling ability
  • Increasing my body mass and flexibility
  • Using skills I already have to make money outside of work

I’ll be writing about how this new strategy of focusing on just a few areas works out compared to being scattered all over the place.

2. Motivation is fickle

“Those days when I’m tired or worn out, or just basically sick of the grind. What do I do on those days? I go anyways. I get it done, even if I’m just going through the motions. I go through the motions. I don’t really want to work out? I work out. I don’t want to hammer on a project? I hammer on the project. I don’t really want to get out of bed? Yea, I get out of bed…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67Vp7fTgQ3g

Damn. Looking back on my life, I see all the little things that lead to discipline being so hard for me now. What did I do when football practice got tough? I quit. What happened when my coach yelled at me in baseball practice as a child? I quit. How about when I had to wake up early for swim practice in high school? I quit.

Now, as an adult, I have to use a all these different methods to keep myself disciplined. I make bets with my roomates, I post on instagram, I tell everyone around me my goals, I track my activities regularly on my computer, etc. All to make sure I keep my eyes on my goals and keep myself disciplined. The biggest takeaway for me here is that I can’t just sit back and wait for motivation to show up. Sure, there might be days when I wake up at 4AM and feel fully rested, but the majority of the time that won’t be the case. I might feel like writing a post on my blog some weekends, but most of the time I almost dread the look of the empty screen space. I do what I have to do though.

It took me 30 years to finally come to the realization that motivation is not going to take me where I want to go in life. Hard work and discipline are the answers. Like Jocko Willink, retired United States Navy SEAL states, “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.” Now when I wake up at 4:30AM to go to the gym, I already know my body is going to do everything in its power to try and keep me in that warm bed. Not today though.

3. Pain + Reflection = Growth

Recognize that mistakes are a natural part of the evolutionary process

Ray Dalio, American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist

Looking back, it would have been really nice to have learned this lesson early on in life. It could have saved me countless years of harsh self talk or low self esteem. With that being said though, my life path has made me the man I am today and I am thankful for that.

Out of the 3 themes of this year I honestly feel like this lesson is probably the most important. The reason I say that is after realizing mistakes are just part of any process, it really changed my way of thinking away from trying to avoid mistakes to one of using them as learning opportunities to grow.

As I mentioned above, at the beginning of this year I got hired at a VC in Silicon Valley. A few months in to the job I was asked to be director of a small team. I accepted the role not fully understanding what I was getting myself in to. Now that I was in a leadership position our CEO had high expectations and didn’t let me off the hook even though I was new. During countless meetings, even though I was still trying to figure out how to manage my team, what our business model was, how b2b sales worked, what startups in the real estate & construction sectors were doing, I would get called out in front of the company for not meeting sales goals or not being proactive enough. At certain times I almost felt like I was in over my head.

However, I started taking a step back from everything and really looking at what our team was doing well AND what we weren’t doing well. Our team rethought what areas we should be focusing our time on and where we shouldn’t. We thought through how we could communicate better, how we could help everyone within the team accomplish their individual goals, and how we can deliver the best product to our clients. Through this reflection, I really feel like our team is in the position to have an amazing 2019.

Now, whenever I feel like life is giving me negative feedback on something I am doing, I realize life is just making me aware of an area I can improve on. I try not to think of mistakes as something negative, rather, they are just opportunities to improve.

In closing 2018 was an amazing year of growth and reflection. This blog has been a great tool helping me reflect on my life and figure out where I can improve and I hope it gets better as I go.

I would love to hear how your 2018 went. Did you accomplish all the goals you set out to achieve? If so, how did it go? If not, why not? Leave a comment below!

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