2018 Goals!

I started this blog a while back as a way for me to develop my skills as a writer and share my work with anyone who might find my story interesting.

I failed.

However, the lessons learned since I began to consider myself a writer and started on this journey changed my life in many ways.

My intent of this blog at first was to distill some of the failures and lessons I’ve learned in my life. I’ve always been a do-it-myself – learn by doing – type of guy. This led me to make some bad decisions which resulted in mistakes that many people make. These are the stories I hope to share with you all at some point in 2018 as I continue to learn and improve each day.

My commitment to personal growth and self-discovery began last year. I’d argue everything that had happened before that point was due to ignorance and blatant stupidity.

Not many people argue I’m the smartest guy around, trust me, I don’t either.

However, for a long time, I felt compelled to defend myself, my actions, and put on a persona that was not my true self. I was unaware of how influenced I had become by my environment, family, and more than deeply affected my confidence.

Now that you understand that a bit more, outside of diving into the depths of subjects that fascinate me, I intend to fulfill my commitment to you all this year and embrace blogging for what it is (or at least how I see it).

This is a little late but with 2017 in the books and 2018 in full force.

Here are some areas of my life I intend on improving in 2018. These can be considered goals, action items, thinking points, and for me, they are building blocks to my future. To continue acting in accordance with my virtues, limiting my vices and to be myself as often as possible.

2018 Goals

  1. Improve Relationships: A bit personal for me to share, yet something I’d say requires improvement in my life. Better communication with family, friends and important people in my life. I’ve let too many people down and too many people go in my life. Some for better, others for worse. I plan to reconcile lost friendships, put an end to relationships which are holding me back, and continue to build new relationships with people who inspire and motivate me to become better every day.
  2. Exercise: I no longer have a gym membership which was a decision I made to save money in Q3 last year. Yoga, bodyweight and home workouts have saved me. I plan to continue my twice weekly Bikram Yoga practice, run 1-2 times per week, and 2 days of hard bodyweight/jump rope work at home. Basically, continue what has been working great and build as I improve.
  3. Diet: More green smoothies! They don’t always taste great but the feeling in my body afterward is sensational. The confidence and strength gained from treating your body right are incredible. Eat more veggies, fewer carbs, and less refined/processed sugar.
  4. Books: Last year I read somewhere between 40-50 books (several twice). I’m so proud of myself for committing to the glorious habit of reading! I am obsessed. My goal for this year is 50-60 books (Print, Kindle, Audible). So far I’ve read “As A Man Thinketh”, by James Allen and “Sapiens”, by Yuval Noah Harari. 2018 will be my best year for knowledge, that I know for sure.
  5. Writing: Right now I write at least 1,000 words a day in one sitting combined with all of my other writing (journaling, minimal social media, emails, Medium, etc…). I’m thinking deeply about my authorship goals for 2018; a novel, non-fiction book, screenplay, or something relating to comedy. My major goal is to find writing/publishing mentor or agent combined with an internship, part-time job, or career opportunity to build more relationships with people who inspire me and can help to improve my craft. I should subcategorize writing since this is a major part of my and ambition.
  6. Coffee/Caffeine: Yes this deserves its own section. It’s my blog. One coffee a day. I’ve been drinking Mushroom Coffee by Four Sigmatic and I swear to you, NO jitters, NO anxiety – PURE FOCUS! Other than one coffee a day I drink a lot of caffeine free tea, mostly chamomile early morning and late at night.
  7. Blogging: 1-2 posts a week. I write far too much to not be able to share SOMETHING with you all every week. I read and listen to far too many books and podcasts to have nothing interesting to say, ever. I apologize for my lack of commitment and I will stick with it this year! (even if it sucks…)
  8. Reading: 1-2 hours per day. I heard that Bill Gates carves out one-hour blocks of time to read in order to engage with the material in more depth. Once I heard that I immediately applied have been processing, learning, and understanding material at a MUCH deeper level. I throw some meditation, jazz, or other enjoyable background music on and allow the book to consume me. It’s wonderful.
  9. Budget: This is the most important aspect of my life. For lack of a more appropriate word. I’ve fucked up my credit and finances. I thought I had everything figured out and slowly the Compound Effect worked against me and here I am. I will be credit card debt free in 2018 and I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life. 2017 was the year of DECREASE in my life. No more daily trips to Starbucks or Chipotle; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will suffice. Store brand over name brand groceries. No more eating out for lunch every day. You get the point. I’ll write a blog to detail out exactly how I cut my expenses and minimalized my spending as much as possible. I hope to be in a financial position to eat and live the way I desire at a minimal scale and not worry about much else. Until then, it’s PB&J’s…
  10. Travel/Relocation: A city that is conducive to my lifestyle is a major part of my year. I’m heading back to up New England next month for one trip and would love to plan a Q3 or Q4 yoga/meditation retreat. The destination is still to be determined (still researching). I’m super grateful for my job now and it allows me a super flexible work-day so I may stick around North Carolina for a while if things work out there…
  11. Minimalism: If you’ve read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, by Marie Kondo you understand. I plan to dispose or give away any old or unwanted “stuff” in order to be more flexible when I decide to travel/relocate. I don’t think I want to go as far as buying a Tiny House (a little much for me) but getting rid of my excess material possessions feels great. It was cleansing to do before I moved to North Carolina and I realized I didn’t do a good enough job when I was unpacking clothes I hadn’t worn in years.
  12. Try New Things: I had a lot of “firsts” last year. I want to continue to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and explore things that I may love and not know yet. It’s been an interesting time in my life and I intend to keep the door open for opportunity. A few include; try stand-up comedy/improv (still scares the hell out of me, and I’ll DEFINITELY bomb!), tr*avel overseas, drive across the country, perform more “30-day challenges” to find new habits, finish writing a book, and many more. I love the idea of experimenting with new things, especially short-term projects that you can do every day. Neil Strauss has something he does where he’ll do something for a month to try it out. For example, strike up a conversation with a stranger every day for a month. Get rejected for something every day for a month (for reasons I’d rather not explain here), practice drawing or guitar for 10 minutes a day, the list goes on…
  13. Improve Communication Skills: Podcasts, interviews, audio recordings, presentations, meetings, dating, and relationships – our lives are becoming more and more inclusive of many forms of communication. I love to talk but most people who know me also know that I tend to ramble and rant when I get going (JUST SHUT UP ALREADY MATT), I apologize in advance. In order to button this up, I plan to practice my speaking skills and become more comfortable speaking in front of people, a camera, and socially to share my ideas without sweating profusely. I hope to become a better presenter of information; speeches, and ideas. A major life goal of mine is to present a TED Talk on a subject I’m passionate about.
  14. Editing: I’ve realized a weakness of my writing skills is my ability to edit and “murder the darlings” of most of my work. Most of my fiction writing has come out in a way that I can only describe as “stream of consciousness”, which isn’t always a good thing. I have no clear goal for this as of today outside of several reference books I use. 2018 will be a productive year for developing my understanding of the use of plot, narrative, and characters within all of my stories.
  15. Mindfulness: “Be Here Now“, by Ram Dass. A phrase I tell myself often when I become anxious or uncomfortable in any situation. Mindfulness and meditation came into my life at a time of poor health, habits, and decision making all around. This combined with treating my body poorly left me unhappy and discontent with life. Some may argue depressed and lonely. Not my finest hours, admittedly. Whatever, mindfulness for me is being present. Present to make the right decisions, present to stay focused on whatever it is you’re doing, and present to always be grateful, appreciative, and humble towards every beautiful day of life. We don’t deserve much in this life; we earn it.

I’m certain these will continue to vary as time goes on

My life philosophy and habits are what help me become who I am today. With that said, will publish another blog about my professional goals and how I plan to add the most value to the world with the gifts I’ve been given. Also, I will share what I have for upcoming projects once my goals are more clear for this year.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below with one of your goals for 2018!

Why a CONSISTENT Morning Routine is Essential

What are your morning rituals?

Human beings are capable of remarkable achievement in life if we CHOOSE to MAKE time for what matters in our lives. The choices we make define us, which starts each morning that we pull our tired bodies out of bed to start the day. I get it, you’re probably saying “I’m not a morning person”, or “I need my sleep”, and I understand. I also believe that you don’t NEED to consider yourself a “morning person” to achieve better results in life – be it professional or personal growth.

Below are a few morning rituals to help find joy before anything could possibly go wrong in your day. Things always go wrong, prepare for them and do something important before it gets the best of you.

  • Exercise (fuel my body)
  • Reading (stimulate my mind)
  • Writing (organize thoughts and empty the mind of all morning clutter)
  • Studying (a desirable hobby, skill, or important daily practice you are learning)
  • Meditation (practice gratitude, appreciation, and mindfulness)
  • Practice creativity (creative writing, learn an instrument, drawing, painting, etc…)
  • Prepare breakfast for your family (I’m certain your kids will love you)
  • Tell your family members you love them (genuinely)
  • What brings you joy? What can you practice for 15-30 minutes that would make your day a PERSONAL success? Do that one thing. Put a smile on your face and keep it with you all day.
  • I hope you see my point…

Find a REASON to wake up early. Many people say “I don’t have time”, or “I’m too busy”, when in reality that often means – “I don’t care enough to make the time”. Turn your morning into something you look forward to doing something you love.

Before I share a few of my morning rituals, I want to share how much this morning practice has changed my life.

I found this guy JustinGuitar who teaches guitar online and decided I was going to practice every morning for fifteen minutes. Over one year later I can play more than I ever had imagined. Next, I wanted to start writing but wasn’t sure where to start. I loved writing and applied this same practice to creating 30 minutes of time every morning to free-write about a wide variety of topics. Sometimes freewriting, creative writing, stories, chapters of a book I’m working on, etc…

Recently I’ve been using my early morning study to learn HTML, CSS, and WordPress. My goal is to build expert level skills in web development and design to expand my skills as a Freelance Writer.

The driving factor for learning these skills is Automattic, an insightful company which strives to power over 50% of the websites on the Internet (28% now I believe). I’m pursuing a position as a #HappinessEngineer, which is the first line of customer support for all things WordPress and other Automattic products. This is a company I’ve been following since hearing a Tim Ferriss podcast (shocking) and I was fascinated ever since. It is a dream opportunity that I feel well-qualified and ready for. Maybe they’ll hire me…

I had a realization through my education that I could basically learn any skill or hobby I desired in a short period of time if I focused on one specific task each morning. I’m not saying you’ll be an expert, but I am saying the power of a consistent morning routine making time for important things to your life is vital to happiness. Maybe you make time after work, or at lunch, which is great. I use the morning because I love my solitude and alone time. I think, reflect, and analyze important aspects of life to find areas for which I can improve.

Here are five things I do each morning to put a smile on my face and crush each day. This doesn’t ALWAYS work out, I fail a lot, unfortunately, but it is always my way of looking at uncertainty in the face and saying “NOT TODAY!” I know that when things are going bad, I can look forward to the morning because I’m grateful to have another day closer to achieving my dreams.

  1. Wake up at 5:30-6 AM and make my bed
  2. Write a 5-Minute Journal and find things to be grateful for in my life.
  3. Brew a cup of coffee or tea (tea if I’ve been overdoing it on caffeine).
  4. 10 push-ups, sit-ups, and air-squats OR 10-15 minutes of a yoga sequence, typically Vinyasa to warm my body and stretch muscles.
  5. 10 Minute Meditation and write my 3 long-hand “Morning Pages” inspired by Tim Ferriss.

So I ask you, what do you do each morning? Do you lie in bed dreading the thought of leaving the comfort of your sheets? Or do you attack the day, do something you love, be grateful for what you have and CRUSH the day with a smile?

A smile, positive attitude, and optimism CAN change your life. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise and go crush the day!

How Nature and Overcoming the “Bad Days” are Connected

We all have those days. You know, the nights where you told yourself you’d be in bed by 10 PM only to lie sleepless until well past 1 AM. That was how my day went today.

I plan to wake up at 5:30 every morning of my life. This is the only way I know to create true personal time. Whether you write, play guitar, exercise, read, or whatever. The early morning hours before most of America is awake have proven to be my BEST times of the day. Maybe you are the same.

But… today was different. This was no ordinary day. I’ve been in NC for around two months. I can count on ONE hand the number of times I’ve slept past 7 AM.

It’s four, well now five.

Today – it was 9:30 AM. What in the hell happened? I could’ve stayed negative and dreaded doing anything, watched TV and sat on my ass all day.

Instead what I did, was start my day as if it were 5:30 AM after taking care of pressing obligations for the day. I exercised, ate a healthy breakfast, meditated, wrote my journal and morning pages, and read for 15 minutes.

See, for most of you, this isn’t a problem. For me, however, my off-days crush me. I feel defeated and vulnerable. These aren’t good feelings.

Exercise is the FIRST way I combat any signs of mental overwhelm or anxiety. Second, it is to write. I write every morning. I consider this my mental therapy. I get my cluttered morning thoughts onto paper and organize my day. Therapy one day, goal setting the next – this writing organizes my day and adds structure to a life where most of us are highly over stimulated.

Why did I choose this photo?

For one, I made a commitment to write, schedule, or publish a blog every day. I wasn’t sure what to write about today so I figured I’d pick a nice photo.

Secondly, this photo was a great day and it reminded me of how much I love nature.

I spent a portion of my afternoon today walking through this amazing park near me to clear my mind. Again, today was NOT my day. I walked with no music or audio book for the first few minutes to connect with nature.

From the trees, birds, and insects to the children and families playing in the playground laughing. Walking amongst Mossy Oaks and large Pines while soaking in the sun and enjoying the fresh air. It is intoxicating!

Sometimes – all we need is some exercise, fresh air, to bring us back to our prime. Our best self.

Final Thoughts

Before I head to bed for the evening and get some MUCH NEEDED rest, I want to share something.

I listen to an audio book everywhere that I go. In my car, walking or running around my neighborhood, folding laundry, basically anytime I can or find myself idle.

This lifted my spirits and changed my mood. I was uplifted by a new sense of wonder and possibility. The sun, the air, and nature helped me overcome one of my least productive days since I’ve lived in North Carolina.

Audio books have changed my life and inspired me in more ways that I can begin to describe. Instead of watching TV or playing a video game, try to find more constructive ways to be inspired. Throw on some headphones, go for a walk, while getting lost in an amazing audio book. I never regret learning, but I always regret the hours of my life spent binge watching a show or plain sitting on my ass.

Here are a few in my library:

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

For you fiction lovers:

The Absent Mind, by Eric Rill

The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Here is another #everydayinspiration post for you inspired by Daily Post and WordPress University.

As someone who is changing careers to pursue my passion for writing, I know how to keep myself busy when I’m not writing. None of which includes; watching Netflix, binge watching a new show, neglecting my health, spending hours on Social Media, or just plain wasting my time. Only to name a select few…

To keep things in the present, I’ll discuss what I’ve been doing since I began focusing on my blog and writing career. I start by writing my three long-hand “Morning Pages” each morning. I then let my goals/objectives dictate my day. If I have a big project I will work on that, but sometimes I’ll schedule a personal day to handle finances, expenses, email, calendar, and catch up on any missed tasks. Sundays are great for this. I’ll then spend my time with constructive activities to stay busy and engaged with the world when I am out and about not writing.

I enjoy many hobbies to clear my mind and get out into the world. I enjoy all things; surf, skate, snow, golf, yoga, and fitness. I do some form of exercise daily to keep my mind and body strong.

I recently purchased a jump rope inspired by ZenDudeFitness – Check out these high energy guys on their website or Instagram. They are inspiring the world to stay in shape, exercise and most importantly jump rope every day or #dothething.

Lately, when I am away from my desk or escaping the Starbucks induced caffeine high, you can find me; walking around the beach, surfing some waves, playing nine holes of golf or at the driving range, skateboarding around town, going for a run, getting some exercise, hitting my local gym, reading, or listening to a book on Audible.

Reading is my favorite constructive non-writing habit. Especially print books which I can annotate and ask questions of. I carry a pencil with me everywhere now. I love this habit. It was inspired by “How to Read a Book“, by Mortimer Adler. Adler explains the benefits of annotating a book as you read. I find myself writing down questions, answers to those questions, underlining and circling words and phrases I like, and more. I now enjoy the process of buying a book knowing that I am going to fill it with my own creative annotations. My proudest accomplishment of this technique is “The Personal MBA“, by Josh Kaufman. I’d never previously physically taken notes ‘inside’ the book before until I read Adler’s book before starting on Kaufman’s. I found myself asking questions about the content, why he said certain things, quotes I liked, new words, reverting back to important pages, etc… Every time I pick it up I know exactly where to look for what I need it. This is why Kindle books aren’t always the best idea. They can be difficult to search, tough to track notes, and hard to annotate. Does anyone have suggestions with Kindle?

Right now I transfer passages, questions, thoughts, and quotes to Google Keep with a specific label for each book. I will take notes in my journal.

How I spend my time when I’m not writing helps me to be in a position to write at my best. I need nature. I need social interaction. I need solitude.

I am a big proponent of ‘accidentally’ leaving my phone in my car or at home. ‘Forget’ it at home and head to the beach. I like to get lost. The feeling of being completely immersed in nature; hiking a mountain, paddling out to surf, riding around town, biking around unfamiliar trails, and escaping the noise of the world. The feeling of being free from technology is surprisingly rewarding, and the freedom from everything else in the world. If I’m going hiking somewhere new, yes I’ll bring my phone but I use it only as needed.

This explains why I love to travel.  The feelings brought on by traveling to new places and far away parts of the world is captivating. When I’m not traveling or exploring a new place, you won’t find me at the bar or out late a night very often. I’m a morning person. You will, however, find me trying to catch a glimpse of a sunset or seeking to find the road less traveled as often as I can.

To summarize, I need excitement in my life.  I’m usually quite spontaneous which helps when I need a day to clear my mind. I’ll go one place and allow the day to take over and dictate what happens. Sometimes I find myself heading home early, sometimes I stroll in late wondering where the time went. I like those nights. The sunny, summer nights where the day escapes you and nights never end.

I practice yoga regularly as well for typically 20-30 minutes a day. This has helped me minimize physical injury and ensure my body can keep up with the demands of the life I desire.

I’m hoping to become a full-time writer (amongst other Entrepreneurial ventures). I love learning, researching, and writing about new and innovative companies, products, services, ideas, people, and more.