Mindful Ambition 2017 Annual Review

In 2017, I revisited one quote more often than any others.

“If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing…We may only go in circles…”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

To move forward from where we’re standing, we need to see clearly where we are. And to understand where we are from higher perspective, it’s helpful to reflect on the steps that brought us here.

Hence, the Inaugural Mindful Ambition Annual Review!

This year I’ve broken up into three sections.

  1. Celebration — What went well?
  2. Growth Opportunities — What didn’t go so well?
  3. The Path Forward — Where am I focused now?

Let’s dive in. 🙂

Celebration…What went well?

Leaping + Committing. 2017 started with me leaving a full-time job to invest my undivided energy and attention into Mindful Ambition. That leap pushed me to commit to living in-line with my most important values and priorities. It’s forced me to go deeper in my own inner-journey. This meant exploring and learning new ideas, experimenting with new approaches, understanding what it takes for me to show up at my best, and having the courage and discipline to follow through on doing that.

In the process of doing this, I’ve shifted my identity and life trajectory from profession-first (I’m a strategist/marketer, who does X type of work…) to purpose-first (I’m committed to helping others live their best lives. To do that, I write, coach, create courses and workshops, etc…) I grew up as a rule-following, risk-averse person, so leaning into the uncertainty of this work and taking leaps has helped me develop new “mental muscles” which will serve me for years to come.

Writing. In 2017, I wrote 44 articles, and 46 Mindful Monday Morning notes. (And there are now over 1300 of you in this community!) Mindful Ambition started as a blog for me to document the ideas, strategies, habits, philosophies, and approaches that have shaped my life for the better. Selfishly, when I started the blog, I wanted to create a “handbook for living” to distill the apparent complexity of life, and make it easier for me to live an extraordinary life based in the things I care about.

Though I shifted a bunch of my attention away from writing in the second half of the year, I’m proud of my creative output this year. And I think I’m doing good on the original intention. Just like me, it’s a work-in-progress. 😉

Coaching. At the encouragement of a friend, I started working 1:1 with members of this community. Our work centers around helping them cultivate Mindful Ambition, so they can show up at their best to create more of what they aspire to in life.

Working directly with others is enriching for me, and fulfilling for them as they take big steps forward in their own life. I also hired the support of my own mental coach to further my own journey. To better support others, I’ve invested more in building myself up.

Other firsts.

  • An Online Course — Mindful Every Day. My mindfulness practice has impacted every element of my life for the better in some way. But when I first heard about meditation, I was a huge skeptic. And once I was interested, it took me a long time to build a consistent practice. Knowing that many others struggle with the same challenge, I created Mindful Every Day to support you in building a practice of your own.
  • Workshop — Frantic to Focused. At the request of some Mindful Ambition community members, I developed an in-person workshop to help their team approach work in a more mindful manner. In the often frantic modern workplace environment, there are tremendous benefits to approaching our work more mindfully. The team got a lot out of it, creating the workshop was an enriching process, and I love opportunities to speak and present. (If you’d like to bring Mindful Ambition to your place of work, get in touch here.)

Movement. My passion for human movement in all it’s form continues to blossom, and my practice has expanded nicely this year. I’m as strong and flexible as I’ve ever been. I’ve gained confidence on the rock climbing wall, my yoga practice continues to evolve, and I had a ton of fun playing with AcroYoga this year. And I’ve supported those specific practices with general strength training.

Movement continues to teach me a ton about myself, my body, and my mind. Training is endlessly fun, humbling, and rewarding. (I also started documenting my journey through an Instagram account. This was originally just for me, but others have started following. If you’re a movement geek like me, perhaps you’ll enjoy!)

Relationships. It’s safe to say that Mindful Ambition has led me to connect with many new people who I never would have met otherwise! But more significantly, I believe this journey has made me a better friend, partner, brother, and son. Though my heads-down focus on work led me to less-frequent social connections, I believe the time I’ve spent with those I care about has been higher-quality.

Domestic Travel. Travel has always been an important and enriching element of my life. Looking back, memories of travels stand out strongly. With such excitement for, and focus on Mindful Ambition, I didn’t take as many trips as in past years, and I didn’t leave the country. (Not ideal.) That being said, I did enjoy some enriching trips within the United States to rock-climb in Kentucky, see family in Wisconsin, canoe the boundary waters in Minnesota, soak up some sun in California, and explore the cities (and mountains of) Denver + Boulder.

Growth Opportunities…What didn’t go so well?

Isolation. Solitude is a tremendous gift, and I value it highly. It’s what led to my consistent creative output. But too much of a good thing eventually becomes a bad thing. Towards the end of this year, I recognized my need to re-integrate collaborative work into my life. I think about the introvert-extrovert spectrum as a dynamic tension. We all have a natural place of homeostasis, where we are spending time with others and spending time alone. In year 1 of solo-preneurship, I over-indexed on time alone.

Resting + Recharging. I think about rest on three levels.

  • Micro = Taking breaks, sleeping each day
  • Mid = Letting the mind rest, having fun with other passions each week + month
  • Macro = Multi-day periods away from work through the year.

This year, I was my all-time best taking purposeful breaks throughout my days, and getting 7.5+ hours of sleep. But on a bigger scale, I struggled to create time away from my work on a weekly basis, and took few extended breaks during the year. This culminated in some mental fatigue towards the end of the year.

Adventuring + Art. Exploring the world around me has always been my greatest passion. It’s part of what led me to my love for photography. Taking photos is a great excuse to explore new places, try new things, and meet new people. Though I certainly explored some new places this year, I didn’t let myself get expansive and curious and truly explore as much as I would have at my best. (Not leaving the country is a part of that…) I also didn’t give myself permission to create time for my love of photography. Though it is a lower priority now, I missed something by letting go of it entirely.

Reading. This year, I took big steps forward in committing to reading more books. But there’s still a gap between how highly I value reading and how much time I’m spending on it. Reading simultaneously rejuvenate, inspires, and expands the mind. Many good reasons to re-emphasize my priority on it.

Looking Forward…What am I working towards?

If 2017 was a year of foundation-building, 2018 will be about building something sustainable and long-lasting on top of it.

Tactically, this means:

  • Consistent creative output
  • Growing the scale and impact of this community
  • Deep 1:1 work with leaders and creators who want to live at their best
  • Collaborations with forward thinking entrepreneurs and organizations
  • Staying committed to my own work that helps me cultivate great energy and the best mindset to approach my days

Navigating that journey in the best way means mindfully working with life’s many dynamic tensions. By dynamic tension, I mean two seemingly opposing forces that, when optimized, work in harmony for us to live at our best. Yin and yang.

Top of mind for me right now are:

  • Work and rest
  • Exploration and focus
  • Grounding and traveling
  • Solitude and connection
  • Breadth and depth
  • Experimentation and consistency
  • Listening to my inner voice and learning from others
  • Discipline and flexibility

With past experiences as my guide, I’m hopeful to achieve greater alignment across the board with these dynamic tensions.

The idea is simple. But navigating these tensions is an ever-changing journey. It’s the real work. And I’m all-in on putting my best foot forward.

When in doubt, I’m committed to slowing down, breathing deeply, listening to my intuition, and using my enthusiasm as my guide.

I truly can’t say where another year of Mindful Ambition will lead me. But I’m excited to find out.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me for on this journey.

With love and light,