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!

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!