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There are a lot of different ways you could look at a year. You might be sitting at the end looking back wondering how you made it through. But, here you are. You did it. You’re here, you’re alive, your story continues on.
I’ve had a year that I’ll never ever forget, and you were part of that, whether you realize it or not—you were a huge part of my journey.
Many times when I read about what someone has to say about their year, I only hear the negative. I hear the things that didn’t go right, or things they regret. Well sorry to say, but that’s not what you’re going to get from me. I had the literal best year of my life. It came with ups and downs like any year will, but that’s what makes us human. It’s the good and the bad. The light and the dark.
This year I decided to flip the bird to resolutions. Instead, I set intentions for the way I wanted to live. I didn’t constrain myself to a single goal. I didn’t want to lose 10lbs or visit a new country. No. I was done setting expectations that would disappoint me in the end. I wanted to live with intent in 2017. I wanted to hustle harder. I wanted to be vulnerable. I wanted to experience more. Above all, I wanted to remain authentic to who I was and where I was at in my journey.
In the last 12 months, I’ve witnessed some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful moments of my life, seen human connection in real time, and had conversations without a screen in between. I’ve met and hugged more humans than I could possibly count, driven across the country, camped, glamped, lived off the kindness of complete strangers, and got lost—like really, really lost.
Somewhere between that turn and this one, I found something. I found someone. I found myself.
I was hidden in the hearts of strangers. I was sitting in the middle of the Colorado trees. I existed in the stars that I stared up at in Richmond. I found pieces of me in works of art in Chicago, in the crushed up shells that my feet sank into as the shore rushed over my ankles in Pensacola. I was hiding in the yellow flower fields of Oklahoma and walking through the mud in Cadillac Ranch, Texas.
It turns out that no matter where you are in the world, the universe will give you exactly what you need in that moment, all it takes is your unwavering trust in the journey. In the good and the bad.
In the last 52 weeks, I’ve taken 31 plane rides, been in 25 cities, visited 15 states, and see two countries. Only Human has held 7 events and donated more than $7,000 to charity. I’ve seen what 5am looks like from behind a computer screen that I hadn’t looked away from since 5pm the previous night. I’ve worked harder than I ever thought possible. I’ve had moments that I thought I couldn’t keep going. I hit mental blocks and have felt so physically drained that all I could do was sleep. I’ve shared more about my life and my hardship than I ever thought I was capable of.
In the last 365 days, I’ve learned more about life than any book has ever taught me, and I thought I’d share some of my biggest takeaways from the year.
1. WHEN YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING, YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU COULD EVER WANT IN RETURN.
When I kicked off 2017, I was already well on my way to a minimal lifestyle. I continued to rid my life of things that didn’t help me grow, or that didn’t add value to my life. So by the time June rolled around and I quit my job to travel for Only Human, it was easier to take that leap. I gave up the last of the big items like my bed, dresser, couch, TV, bookshelf, and the 1 million little things you never think about until you’re holding it wondering if it’s worth packing. I gave up my lease, my address, my home, and I left. As I was leaving I remember feeling free. I was no longer tied to things. My wallet was no longer shackled to consumerism. I was in charge of my life. After I gave up everything, in return, I gained more than I ever thought I could have. The things I own now are things that could never be taken from me because they live inside of me.
2. WHEN IN DOUBT, TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED.
As I’ve adventured my way through 25 cities this year I realized that I had to unlearn some old habits. Previously when I traveled I was on a timetable—I had places to go and people to see. It’s not very often you get the opportunity to roam wild and be free, but that opportunity suddenly surrounded me. Without a solid plan, I unlearned the structure that this world often thrusts upon us. I learned that when there is a choice between left and right, there isn’t a wrong. Find a path that looks less worn, hell, find a spot where there is no path and create one for yourself. There is magic on the other side, I promise you.
3. ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS LISTEN.
When it comes to life and love, there is something so very simple I’ve learned, I learned that all you really have to do is listen.
When your heart speaks, listen.
When the pain yells, listen.
When your friend needs you, listen.
When something feels wrong, listen.
When someone tells you no, listen.
When the universe talks, listen.
When the hair on the back of your neck stands up, listen.
When your gut whispers, listen.
4. NO TWO JOURNEYS ARE THE SAME.
It’s so easy to fall into someone else’s life these days. Please do not look at someone else’s journey and compare yourself. Don’t compare your life to their Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tinder, or Pinterest. Don’t look at how much weight they’ve lost or friends they’ve gained. Don’t stare too long at their successes, because all you’re doing is dedicating yourself to their life and not your own. Everyone (even the best coaches out there) have bad days. Finding inspiration in others is different than longing for a life someone else is living. They’re living a happy life because they wake up and choose to live their life and not anyone else’s. Sharing your struggle and success is part of remaining authentic, and finding true success is figuring out how to live as authentically as possible—regardless of what others are doing, or telling you to do…or not to do. You gotta do you, boo.
5. YOU HAVE THE TIME, YOU JUST DON’T HAVE THE DEDICATION.
If I hear one more human tell me that they don’t have the time to dedicate towards bettering themselves, I’m going to cancel their Netflix membership immediately. Fact: your phone keeps track of the time you spend on apps. I wonder how much time you spend scrolling through other’s lives. You have the time, what you don’t have right now is the dedication. In order to attain ANYTHING (read: a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g) in your life you have to give up time, you have to dedicate that time towards progress. Time is a precious commodity in life, and the only way to ensure that you have more of it on this planet is to better yourself and your body. It starts with your body and ends with your mind. So next time you tell me that you can’t work on yourself because you don’t have time I want you to spend the next week keeping a journal of where your time is going, because I guarantee if your life was on the line, you’d find the time.
6. HATE WILL NEVER MAKE YOU/ME/US GREAT.
We’ve been through a lot as a country this year. Hell, we’ve been through a lot as a culture, as a community, and as individuals this year. But if there is one thing that rings true no matter which was you look at it—hate is the one thing that will ensure we will never attain greatness. Hating yourself for the times you’ve slipped up will never make it better, hating others for what they have and you don’t will not fix your life, hating your ex because s(he) hurt you will not make them love you again. At the end of your life, what will matter is the amount you loved and the amount of love you accepted. That’s it. There is no room for hate here.
7. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW.
Whatever you’re feeling right now, you’re strong enough to navigate your way through it. Yeah, I know, it might hurt like hell, but that’s the human experience. The pain is there to show us how good the love can feel. The pain teaches us how to feel. It’s temporary. It’s fleeting. It will pass. In the moments you feel your weakest, I want you to take a step back and thank yourself, because you have survived 100% of the things you’ve been through up until this point, and you can make it through this, even if it is only one step at a time.
I had a perfectly imperfect year. I allowed the valleys to teach me how strong I was, and I used the peaks to thank myself for the work it took to get there. As I sit here and round up my year, there is a resounding feeling I’m left with—gratitude. I am grateful for the bad and the good. The light and the dark. I’m grateful for the challenges that I’m faced with, and the unbelievable love and support I’ve gotten from an amazing community of humans. I’m grateful for the choice I made to take a risk, and I’m so very grateful that there are other humans in this world who feel called to do better. To be good. Together we could make 2018 a year we’ll all remember, but to get there it will take giving up, giving in, kindness, strength, and dedication.
If you feel ready to take on this new Lightyear with a new mindset, join me in the next generation of Humankind. Through a 12 week mentorship, we’ll unlearn old habits together, push our bodies to new levels, and learn the strength that lives within our souls. I will start accepting applications on December 25th and they will end January 5th. The next generation will start their 12-week mentorship on January 15th.
New year, new humans.
My Facts about 2017
- Phoenix, AZ
- Las Vegas, NV
- Flagstaff, AZ
- Richmond, VA
- Baltimore, MD
- San Fran, CA
- Sedona, AZ
- Houston, TX
- San Diego, CA
- Little Rock, AR
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Albuquerque, NM
- Pensacola, FL
- Denver, CO
- KC, MO
- St Louis, MO
- Lexington, KY
- Louisville, KY
- SUNNY’S HOMETOWN
- Chicago, IL
- Payson, AZ
- Indy, IN
- NYC, NY
- Orlando, FL
- Cabo San Lucas, MX