10 lessons learned in 2022

A 2022 calendar on a desk

They are:

1) Labels are limits.

We give ourselves disempowering labels and attributes all the time. Here are a few I heard from some of my coaching clients this year:

  • “I’m a chaotic person.”
  • “If I’m not certain I can do something, I can’t do it.
  • “All I need is more confidence…I’m just unconfident.”

None of these are true.

They’re just excuses meant to justify why we haven’t been living the life we truly want. If we’re chaotic, it makes sense that our physical and digital lives aren’t organized. If we’re uncertain, it makes sense that we haven’t put ourselves out there to try something new and scary. If we’re unconfident, it makes sense that we’re waiting and putting things off.

In my coaching experience, I’ve seen people of all ages and careers drastically change their personalities, habits, and values.

Nothing is fixed. Nothing is set in stone. The only thing keeping us from doing what we want is whatever fear, story, or label we tell ourselves to keep us from taking scary action.

2) Men and women are different.

Wooden cutouts of a man and a woman

And that’s okay. Actually, it’s necessary.

There are noticeable, meaningful, and beautiful differences between males and females. That is true of all animals. And what blows my mind most is that that is considered a controversial statement in 2022.

We can start with physicality and work our way down. Height. Weight. Muscle mass. Bone density. Fist size. Hip width. Fat distribution.

These are all averages, of course. I know women taller than most guys I know. And I know men who are more feminine than some women I know.

Which is a great segue from hardware to software.

Anyone who thinks gender is entirely a social construct has never taken testosterone or estrogen.

In Carole Hooven’s book T, she points to research done on men and women transitioning. Without fail, the women who began taking testosterone reported heightened levels of sex drive and decreased levels of empathy and emotionality. And men who started estrogen therapy reported increased compassion and emotional connection to others. I doubt society was telling these people to change in this way.

And no, that’s not to say women are too emotional or that it’s okay for men to be sexual deviants. It’s just useful to look at what makes us different from one another.

We can also observe the spectrum of masculinity and femininity:

Masculine energy: logical, assertive, resilient, seeking discomfort, conquering, direct.

Feminine energy: nurturing, intuitive, allowing, creative, gentle, accepting, indirect.

This can explain why men and women choose different professions, are often confused by the other sex, and are attracted to different characteristics. We’ll end #2 with that last point.

I’ve been single most of my life. So this year I became fascinated by what men and women are looking for on the dating market.

On dating apps, for example, men swipe right on (say yes to) 65% of women. Women swipe right on 3% of men.

That actually makes sense when we realize that women have way more to lose when pursuing a sexual relationship. They could get assaulted. They might get pregnant. They should be pickier than men.

Most women: “I want a guy who I connect with emotionally, who makes me feel safe, and who I can envision having a child and a ton of fun with.”

Most men: “See hot girl. Want hot girl.”

Moving on before I get canceled.

3) Porn is sexual junk food for the brain.

A man with glasses staring at his phone

For the vast majority of heterosexual men, porn is not a good thing.

It weakens sex drive, makes men ashamed of themselves, increases the risk of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, raises our tolerance so we crave more intense porn, makes talking to women even more terrifying, devastates men’s body standards and sexual expectations for women, and decreases motivation and willpower in other areas of our lives.

Quitting porn has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my sex life and health. But it’s hard. Reading Brett McKay’s How to Quit Porn was super helpful.

A 10-year-old boy with an iPhone will see more gorgeous naked women in five minutes than a man 100 years ago would see in his lifetime. Our brains are not evolved to handle that kind of stimulus.

On the flip side, I don’t think porn is empowering to women.

People say, “sex work is work.” Sure, I think if you’re a consenting adult, you should be able to choose whatever life path you want. But if the goal is to get men to stop objectifying women, making more porn seems like an odd approach.

Banning porn would be wildly impractical and downright impossible. But I don’t think it should be free. I dread the day my son gets internet access and can find whatever he wants at any time.

For anyone who wants to learn more, but doesn’t want to read a whole book, I’d suggest one of these resources explaining your brain on porn:

4) Anyone can, but most people won’t.

Can anyone get in great shape? Can anyone pack up and move to Australia? Could anyone really go downtown and ask out 20 people?

Yes.

But most people won’t. Most people (including myself) have a plethora of fears and stories stopping them from doing the things they’d actually love to do.

Different people have different starting lines, of course. It’s a lot easier for me to be moving to Argentina in a few months than it would be for my friend who has a one-year-old, two dogs, and a home to look after.

But if you live in the western world and are above the poverty line, you can really do anything you want.

One of my clients recently shared her fear of staying productive and healthy over the holidays. “I want to,” she said. “I really want to work out, eat well, and read over these next two weeks. But it’s impossible when you’re traveling and spending time with family.”

Then I asked, “If I said I’d give you a million dollars to have a super healthy and productive couple of weeks, what would you do?”

She smiled and told me working out, eating clean, and finding time to open a book would be effortless.

So again, we can do anything we want. The question is not: Are you able to do this thing? The question is really: How incentivized are you to make this thing happen?

One helpful model I like is asking myself, “If I knew I was going to die five years from today, what would I do?”

My answers to that question always lead me to do scary and fulfilling things. Flying to Vancouver to pursue a woman. Starting a coaching business from scratch with no experience. Moving to Buenos Aires. Spending quality time with the people I love.

In my experience, the people who do cool shit aren’t fearless; they’re courageous. Courage is being afraid but doing the thing anyway. Unfortunately, so many people wait until the fear goes away to live the lives they want. Then they wake up at 50 and wonder what they’ve been doing all this time.

5) Getting in great physical shape is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future family.

I got pretty cut this year. (Bragging? Maybe.)

And I’ve gotten to experience many short-term, superficial benefits.

First, I feel super confident with my shirt off. At the beach, on a summer run, changing in the locker room.

It’s not like women come sprinting out of the woodwork once I peel my v-neck off. But the internal peace I feel knowing that I’m good under the hood is hard to put into words. (The funny thing no one tells you is that when you start to get jacked, 95% of the compliments you get come from other guys.)

Second, I’m mentally sharper.

Many of us have experienced feeling like crap, then forcing ourselves to work out, and all of a sudden we feel awake and ready to go. Aside from the endorphins putting us in a better mood, we also know we just did something difficult and worthwhile. This makes us proud of ourselves and puts us in a more grateful headspace.

The actions needed to get in shape are actually pretty easy. It’s the patience and consistency that’s hard.

Here’s all I’ve done this past year to get a body I’m immensely proud of:

  • go to the gym 1 to 3 times per week
  • use the Fitbod app as a personal trainer to tell me what exercises to do when I’m there
  • eat well more often than not (avoiding sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods)
  • work out with my PT buddy twice a month
  • drink supplements like Creatine and Aminos (These are both legal, over-the-counter substances lol.)

That’s it. I just did these things almost every week.

None of them are difficult. It’s the “almost every week” part that’s difficult.

I hated going to the gym for an entire year. I needed my friend to go with me otherwise I’d leave after one set of one exercise. But once I started feeling and seeing real changes in my muscles and body fat…and once I got more familiar with all the machines and equipment and knew what I was doing, I was hooked.

The last superficial plus I’ll share is an example.

I had a lovely evening with a lady friend earlier this year. The morning after, she told me she really enjoyed grabbing my arms and feeling a good bit of muscle on them.

Is getting jacked necessary for being attractive? Absolutely not.

But in general, people are more sexually attracted to folks who are fit. We’re wired to think they’d make healthier offspring and it signals to us that they are disciplined enough to take care of themselves.

I’ll end this point with something more long-term. Here’s a quote from Dr. Peter Attia:

“If you’re over 40 and don’t smoke, there’s about a 70 to 80% chance you’ll die from one of four diseases: heart disease, cerebrovascular disease [stroke], cancer, or neurodegenerative disease [Alzheimer’s, dementia].”

As more of my friends have children, as I just spent two weeks in Virginia watching my grandpa die, and as another year comes to a close…I’m seeing more and more that my health isn’t just for me.

It’s for my future wife, my future kids, and everyone else. If working out and eating well today means I get one more year with the people I love most, it’ll be worth it. I want to be a 60-year-old man who can pick up his grandkids and play with them.

Freak things happen, but an unfortunate number of early deaths are simply because someone didn’t take good care of themselves.

That wasn’t my grandpa, and it won’t be me.

6) When you start something, it never ends up being what you think it’s gonna be.

I started this blog in 2019. It was meant to teach people about habits and self-improvement.

I avoided talking about myself because I was certain nothing about me was interesting. There was also a fear that people would think, who the hell cares about you and your experiences?

The opposite turned out to be true. The most successful pieces I’ve written have reliably been about my own travels, anxieties, and insights. I go back and read my early stuff and it’s like reading a crappy A.I. who copied other personal development creators.

I’ve also tried my hand at several YouTube channels. Vlogging. Sketch comedy. Mindset tips.

None of them stuck.

I even had two podcasts. One with just my friends and me BSing and one where I’d interview guests on their specific passions.

They both faded out because I didn’t really know what my message was or who the shows were for. All these things combined made me feel like I was a guy who could never finish anything. I couldn’t see things through. I feared I lacked enough grit and resilience to create something worthwhile.

Then this year, as I was interviewing creators for my book, I got an idea.

What if I took my favorite medium, YouTube, and my favorite thing, interviewing awesome people, and combined them? Enter: The YouTuber’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Now, I get to learn from some of my favorite creators in the space—how they started, what their systems are, and everything in between.

Little did I know, I’ve been building all the skills needed to do this all along. Interviewing, editing, uploading, recording myself, listening to my own voice, working with designers and engineers, sharing my opinions…

The next job you take, the next business you start, the next door you open…It probably won’t be the thing you take to your grave. But it will get you closer to whatever the next door is.

You just have to choose.

When you do, one of two things happens.

  1. You love it, and now you know what you want to lean into.
  2. You hate it, and now you know what you want to avoid.

Sitting around and strategizing over the perfect podcast idea is the best way to never start a podcast. But sitting down, hitting the record button, and uploading shitty conversations is the first step to having the podcast of your dreams five years from now.

Don’t worry about what it could be. Just choose something that sounds fun and start. You’ll learn what it’s meant to be along the way.

7) We can double our quality of life by prioritizing our sleep.

Another health one.

I’ve doubled down on my sleep this year and I feel like a God. Late nights and partying are still fun from time to time. But the benefits I get from consistent 8 hours blows everything else out of the water.

Being well-rested makes us more creative, motivated, and happy. Being stricter about bedtime, getting right out of bed in the morning, drinking way less alcohol…These simple acts have a compounding effect.

(image from Deepstash)

Here are easy ways to get much better sleep:

  • go to bed and wake up at the same times as much as you can (including weekends)
  • track your sleep (I use the free app SleepCycle)
  • give yourself an extra hour in bed (if you want 8 hours of sleep, go to bed 9 hours before you wake up)
  • keep it dark before bed, and make it bright when you wake up
  • wear a sleep mask or use blackout curtains
  • avoid drinking anything before bed so as not to wake up to pee
  • keep your phone away during the first and last hours of the day
  • dial down caffeine and alcohol use

8) Dating apps suck.

I have several friends who have met awesome people on dating apps like Bumble and Hinge. I’m even going to be the best man at a bestie’s wedding this spring and they met on Tinder.

Whenever and however two people meet each other and fall in love, that makes me happy. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. And there’s a darker side to dating apps I wish more people would talk about.

Firstly, the experience is quite different for men and women.

Women get way more matches. This means they get more oddball dudes in their inboxes that they have to sift through. It also means they’re able to ghost several guys with ease.

I spent two months on the apps and it was terrible for my mental health.

I’m a fairly confident young lad. I like who I am. But after just a few days on one of these services, I felt as though I was an ugly and useless trash monster not fit for this world.

Above all, I’m afraid of what it’s doing for future generations. Dating apps, along with all other social media, are slowly destroying the need for a very important skill…

The ability to go out into the world and talk to people.

I mean really talk. Sit down face to face and have a conversation. Be able to debate, ask curious questions, look people in the eye, and share personalities and stories.

Teenagers today have higher levels of anxiety, depression, and anti-social behavior than we’ve ever seen. And I don’t think the remedy to that is to disincentivize them from going out and meeting people. Staying inside and staring at our phones just doesn’t seem to be the way.

Since the popularization of dating apps, fewer and fewer men are meeting women and having sex. That’s because we’ve created a “Facebook Marketplace” for dating. People scroll through, see if someone is hot or not, maybe get some idea of their hobbies or interests, and swipe yes or no.

Whereas meeting someone in person makes us much more likely to find them attractive. A picture tells us nothing about what it’s like to be in a room with them. I bet countless people have said no to a guy or gal on an app that they’d absolutely love if they met at a party.

I met some cool women on these apps. While it never blossomed into anything, I don’t regret my time with them. But the mental strain of the dating app rat race wasn’t worth it to me.

That’s why in 2023, I’ve set a goal to ask out 100 women. Face to face. Out and about.

The idea is to eliminate my fear of rejection through pure exposure. And obviously, it’d be great if I met someone awesome before getting to 100 invites.

9) Who’s in your hospital room?

Lake Gaston, 2009.

My grandpa died last week. Prior to, I spent a week down in Virginia with my family to be with them and be by his bedside during his final days.

I’ll write more about him and that time in another blog. But this part is actually about something I learned from Kevin Hart.

My company got to see him speak in Philadelphia right before COVID hit. It was more of a self-improvement talk than comedy.

He told the story of his brutal 2019 car accident.

“Man,” he said. “They told me I might be paralyzed for the rest of my life. When I couldn’t eat or go to the bathroom on my own…you know what I had in that room with me? It wasn’t my fame, my house, or my Instagram following. The only thing in that hospital room with me were all the relationships I built over the years. My team, my friends, my family…”

Since then, I’ve used this as a model for living my life.

If I got in a horrible car accident today who would be there in my hospital room when I woke up? Those people have to be prioritized now.

While it was quite an emotional time, I could smile looking around grandpa’s hospital room. Seeing my dad, my aunts, my grandma, my stepmom, my half-brother…This group of people was just a representation of the life this man created and the lives he touched. He made every single one of us feel special.

That’s what I want to do: make the people in my life feel special.

10) I have no choice but to live a fantastic life.

Manhattan, 2022.

Before my grandpa went, he told us all, one by one, what we meant to him and how much he loved us. He said he lived a great life and had no regrets.

And as I spent those days there, I would look at my grandpa while he was sleeping in that bed. My old man’s old man.

It didn’t take long for it to really sink in. That will be me one day.

A long long time from now, after Elon has taken us all to Mars…I’ll be an old man dying in a hospital bed. That inevitable fate is coming for me and every other person I’ve ever known, loved, and laughed with. I’ve known that and I write about it often. But seeing a physical manifestation of it was 10 times more powerful.

By truly understanding that certainty—that I will die one day, I felt only one thing.

I have no excuse.

Between now and whenever that day is, I have absolutely no excuse but to live a phenomenal life. How can I be rude to a friend, get pissed if a waiter gets my order wrong, or sit around wasting a day…knowing that it’s all going to end someday?

I feel so empowered to sit at this desk and work on projects I love, to charge more money in my business, to travel to other countries, to call my friends and family more, to stay in great shape, to learn more about the world and the people in it. There’s a fire under my ass.

This year, I’ve learned the importance of spending more time around birth and death. Playing with my friends’ kids brings an energy to the room that’s not possible otherwise. It makes me feel lighter and more joyful. It makes me imagine the kind of father I’m going to be.

Thinking and talking about death and dying makes me feel so present and appreciative of the people and opportunities I have at my disposal.

Some might think us all dying one day means none of this matters. I like to use that to my advantage.

Since none of this will really matter 500 years from now, why wouldn’t I go after what I want? Why shouldn’t I ask out a beautiful woman at a coffee shop? What’s stopping me from charging the kind of money I want to charge? Who cares?

Most of us go around waiting for permission to live the lives we truly want. But sometimes certain events can wake us up.

Thanks for waking me up, gramps.

Fin.

Hope you got something out of that!

Please, dear reader, do me a favor. I’d love to know the biggest lesson you learned this year. Please email it to me.

Thanks for your support. Here’s to another year. 🥳