End of 2019 already! Whew! Where the fuck did last year go!?! Feels like it flew by. Faster than any year that I’ve previously experienced by a long shot.
Right now I’m sitting in Rio de Janeiro, the same place I was last year at this time. I was here, stayed, left, and now returned back to the same spot. Feels good to have been able to come back. To be in a place where I am in control of my life. I chose to be here last year and now I chose to return.
This has been an incredible year for me. Definitely the best year of my life by a variety of measures. It genuinely feels like every year gets better for me (knock on wood), and I’m hoping to continue that trend going into 2020 and beyond.
So many transformational and profound experiences in a short amount of time. My first Carnavale here in Brazil. Two of my best friends got married. I traveled all around Europe. I started my dream job. I lived in Brazil for over 6 months. I continued to release articles. I spent a good portion of the year getting weird. I finally started highlining.
What a fucking year!!!
At the end of the year I like to do a “lookback” of sorts. Go back through everything that has happened and see what I learned along the way.
So let’s dive in and take a look.
I was in Rio de Janeiro around this time. I was working on a consulting job for an electronic signature company. I remember that I was very frustrated with my work. I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t resonating, but I didn’t have an alternative. It was a good salary and it provided me with the structure and security I needed, but in my core the work I was doing just didn’t resonate or fulfil me.
I was also thinking about my next steps and what I want to do with my life. Was thinking about using social media more to promote myself and my writing and becoming a coach or launching a course of some kind. Build a business outside of my existing day job. This period of the year felt like a lot of existential angst. Like I was looking for direction. Frustrated but trying to remain patient.
Overall though, I was in Rio de Janeiro. It was a great time filled with a handful of romantic flings and overall enjoying myself and my time in Rio on a good salary and living comfortably. I had a dope apartment, great group of friends, and life was good other than not liking my job and wanting to do something more with myself.
In January I did an Ayahuasca ceremony that would eventually revolutionise and heal my relationship with my brother. That ceremony also unlocked a lot of insights within myself about how I was resisting myself and my love of myself because of my relationship to him.
I went on a rampage of Getting Weird. I wrote a ton of articles on my philosophy of it. Made videos of getting weird and doing strange things. It was a ton of fun! I loved it. Felt really refreshing to give myself a fat dose of self love. Yea – this was the period of self love. As I was going through some existential struggle, focusing on loving myself and all of my weirdness in full.
This was probably the highlight of that time…
In this time I also experienced my first Carnavale. Dancing and partying and kissing random strangers in the streets while dressed in costume and going crazy. It was an incredible experience to say the least. Not something I want to do again anytime soon, but definitely something I’m happy I experienced. (I also remember that I skipped my friends bachelor party during that time as well).
In around March/April, feeling constrained with time and energy, I decided to ask my client if I could cut my hours in half, move to more of a part time role. Given that my title was “Head of Sales”, he said that he can’t have his head of sales become part time, and needs me to be all in. I said that if he couldn’t offer part time, I would have to resign and leave my role. He agreed it was best that I leave my role.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. He let me go thinking that he had my replacement already. I had successfully trained two people under me, and he was going to put one of them at the helm. Buuuuuuuut when one of the guys found out I was leaving, he took a job with a different company instead, thus leaving this CEO shit out of luck. He had to go back to me as a part time sales guy as he had no other options.
I left Brazil with a bit of instability in my role but confident the part time work was falling into place. Things didn’t unravel how I expected, but everything worked out in my favour and I had what I wanted. A part time role to earn myself money while I take time off to go to my friends weddings and travel around Europe.
Now around this time something very important happened as well. Throughout the last 2 years or so I had been volunteering with Steven Kotler. I did some random projects for him on social media, backend zapier automations, setting up CRM tools, emails, things like that. Really just random tech stuff here and there.
In around March I get a phone call from the main guy who I worked with while volunteering. He gives me a call and says that he has good news and bad. The first piece is that Steven is leaving the Flow Genome Project, and he is as well. The good news is that they are starting a new organization, The Flow Research Collective…and they are going to need someone on the phones to talk to people. They will be having an event at the end of April in Miami, and they would love to have me there to meet everyone! 🙂
I left Brazil knowing that I had my part time role secured, and the opening that I had been waiting for to work in the world of Flow and peak performance was now opening. I was feeling like although a bit nervous and anxious, things were falling into place.
So January-March was, in keywords, existential angst, ayahuasca, my brother and our relationship,self love and get weird, Carnavale, leaving my job, new job opportunity, flow!
Back at home. Downtime. Continued my get weird expeditions. Continued writing. Organized myself for my upcoming travels and the flow event.
End of April I flew to Miami for our live event. It was incredible. I got to meet Steven and our whole team. Got to meet the guests. Went through the training and learned a ton of new information and insights. Huge huge huge win. I had the opportunity to go there, make my presence known, get some face to face time together and make an initial impression, and get out clean. I nailed it. Overall amazing event and it made me all the more excited to get started talking to clients and selling our trainings.
I also got to visit a childhood friend of mine while in Miami. We caught up and jammed out and created some fun music together. We created this…
First I had the wedding of my childhood friend and college best friend. It was a beautiful ceremony and a ton of fun. Drinks were so good I got blacked out. I think I danced some. Good times hahha!
I got to go to Greece for my best friends wedding, with all of my childhood best friends. It was incredible. Amazing travels and sights and adventures, the wedding was amazing, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Travels! (Too lazy to add in pictures here as this article is already insanely long so if you want to check out what these places look like head to my instagram @troyerstling 🙂 )
Given that I now had a remote part time job, and I was yet to start selling the flow trainings, it was time to take advantage of my first time to Europe. I planned to work from my computer while traveling for the next few months.
I started in Madrid, Spain where I met up with my buddy from Brazil and his parents. Then to Girona for the World Ayahuasca conference. Met a girl and kinda fell for her while there. Then we went to Barcelona. Then Mallorca. In Mallorca took some LSD together and had a horrible experience camping together, fell out of interest with her after seeing a different side of her.
After Mallorca I returned back to Barcelona for a few nights, then off to Copenhagen. In Copenhagen I visited the same friend from Brazil who I met in Madrid, and two other of our friends as well, one of whom I lived with in India for 2 years who now lives in CPH. We did an Ayahuasca ceremony together on Mon Island. I then decided to stay in Copenhagen for a bit given that my buddy had a house with a spare room, and ended up living there for about 6 weeks or so. My time there consisted of frequent trips to Christiania, saunas, slacklining in the canals, and Jazz festival. Really solid time in CPH and enjoyed myself there.
While I was living in CPH I also started to sell the flow courses. At this point it was early July. Within a short period of time I started making my first sales. Things took off in a great way pretty quickly.
After Copenhagen I flew to London to visit a buddy of mine who lives there. Chilled with hm for the weekend and caught up. Always appreciate a nice London stopover!
From there went to Italy where I would spend the next 6 weeks traveling with my recently married best friend and his wife. We went to Lecce, Matera, and Gargano. Stuffed our faces with great food. I mounted a waterline in paradise. Hiked and took boat rides. Amazing journey!!!
Now I was really in the rhythm of flow calls. Closing deals consistently. In a good work rhythm. Had some difficulty with remote work and internet while traveling but made it all work.
Last stop in the Eurotrip was Perpignan, France to visit my buddy who I also met in Brazil. Chilled there for a week and mostly worked. Things were really starting to pick up momentum for Flow and I was focused.
At least I got to get another waterline up 🙂
Back to Brazil 🙂
Spent the 2nd half of September in Rio catching up with friends, and then moved to Florianopolis.
I loved my time there. It was a really positive experience. I had a great community of friends at my coworking space and met people easily. Lived right next to the beach. Met friends there quickly as well. Met a good girl who I spent most of my time with in Floripa.
Work wise, I really fell into flow while selling flow. Had the most lucrative months of my life. Carved out my role within the company. Met Steven in Sao Paulo and hung out with him for 3 days. Felt like I was hanging out with a friend I had known for years. We really kicked it off and enjoyed our time together, only further reaffirming how much I love my new job and what Im doing. Im also learning a TON about neuroscience and in general the human body and peak performance. I LOVE THIS SHIT!!!
Most importantly though, my highlining journey really began. The Slackline community in Floripa was amazing. I would slack at the park every Tuesday. Jumped on my first highline. Then Dib festival. Then another highline. Then festival de mulheres. Then another highline. In around 3 months I was able to get around 20 runs in and really get comfortable with the process.
It’s also quite honestly, the most challenging and difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I love that everything I do outside of highlining affects my performance on the line. Yoga and stretching and keeping my body loose, meditation and keeping my mind calm, mastering my breathing. Everything I have been training in for the last few years culminating in me being on the highline.
Overall this was an amazing year! Left my job and found my dream job. Traveled all over Europe. Chased my dreams of highlining. Continued to write and release articles.
It feels like all the puzzle pieces fell into place this year. Professionally. Financially. Physically. Mentally. I feel well positioned to dominate 2020 and beyond.
Key Learnings –
Last year I felt like I had a lot of learnings and lessons, whereas this year was really just an extension of the previous year. Everything I accomplished in 2019 was the result of things I was already doing, and continued to do, from 2018. Last year I had two big learnings, which were mostly consistency and do less. This year I did a great job of focusing on the three things I find most important – my job, highlining, and writing. I feel that I crushed all three of those areas, and it took me all year to do it.
With Flow work I consistently showed up and made my presence known for 6 months, and then dominated in the 2nd half of the year. I didn’t highline until September, but I trained all year and maintained my consistency in slack lining even while traveling. I put myself in position to accomplish that goal in Q4. Writing I was consistent for the big portion of the year. I released a lot of articles and continued to write and expand on my body of work.
So this year the big lesson was the power of less. Do less and be consistent in the few things that I do. Perform at my best in the small areas of my life I want to crush. Given that my 2019 resolution was “do less”, I’m very happy that I accomplished that goal well. It was also a big lesson that you often need the full year to do it. A lot of time spent in pushing through the moments without movement and waiting for the momentum to build until it snowballs. Now ride that wave of momentum into the next year.
I think I also really learned a lot about wanting a home base. Wanting somewhere that I can call home and lay down roots. Being tired of traveling. Europe was fun and all but I didn’t really care about traveling. I wanted to plop myself down in one place. I feel that once I did that in Floripa I was happy. I want to continue that for next year.
This was also the year of self love. I joked that I was in a relationship with myself, but it was largely true. I gave myself a lot of love this year, really connected with myself again. Connected with the love of myself and my personality and being my true authentic self. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was able to accomplish what I wanted to because of that.
I think I also see the longer term picture of staying with something for years. It’s now been two years of training on the highline and I’m just getting started. Just getting started with flow science. Just getting started with writing. And it took years to just be getting started. I’m starting to see the long term plays come into focus.
Review on my writing!!!
This year I was able to crank out 83 new articles. I was surprised to see that this was actually less than the previous year, as last year I was able to get over 100. But as I mentioned in the 2018 look back, many of the articles I released in 2018 were actually written in 2017. When it comes down to what I actually wrote this year, I feel like I was more consistent and wrote more this year than I did in the previous year, even if the total release # doesn’t reflect it.
The biggest reason for the drop off was that I was also traveling through Europe for about 4 months. Throughout that time it was hard to get into a good writing rhythm. I dropped off in those months and stopped releasing articles. Only at the end of the year did it pick back up again. This will be something important to keep an eye on throughout the next year if I am traveling a lot. It was also a good lesson in what I feared…what happens to my consistency when the backlog runs out?
One thing I am happy about is that in 2018 I said I wanted to do more long form writing. This year I had double digit articles that were over 15 minute long reads. Some where upwards of 30 mins-1 hour. I’m proud that I was able to release longer form, more well thought out articles.
This year also followed some good trends. I cranked out a lot of articles on only a few topics. This year was really broken up into self love, get weird/embracing your insanity, flow, and then my general random thoughts and philosophies. Again – less is more. Less topics and diving deeper into the ones that I choose. Really fleshing them out.
Having said that, I also feel that I experimented with a few different styles. Stream of consciousness vs scientific vs personal storytelling and free writing. I really feel like as a writer I’m falling into my style and becoming more comfortable in a variety of forms.
From a pure numbers standpoint, this year was MASSIVE growth for the website. I try not to look at stats and readership and traffic and things like that, I try to write just for the love of writing without objectives, but it’s also fun to look at the numbers.
Here’s what we’re looking at –
Total traffic went from 27,501 in 2018 to 72,821
Unique visitors went from 20,075 in 2018 to 42,940
The most fascinating number? SEO Growth. Most of this traffic above is coming from SEO. In 2018 I had 5,246 hits from SEO. In 2019 that number grew to 44,040!!! Subscribers and total readership doubled from just under 200 to around 400 right now. Small audience, but I love and appreciate all of these people who are reading 🙂
Most popular articles?
By a wide margin, at #1 with over 10,000 hits to the website, My Masturbation Meditation. In reality I never expected this one to explode. My mother hated it. I wrote it as just another one of my wacky self love concepts, and it took off! This year I’m thinking of expanding upon this topic and experimenting a bit with it…mindful masturbation anyone?!
From then the remainder of the top 10 went as follows…
My Experience with Kambo – Medicinal Frog Poison
The things we know we should be doing…but don’t
My 4 Day Shamanic Journey
Make yourself your top priority
Loving yourself means loving your flaws
Overflow your cup of self love
The personification of emotions
Now is the only moment that exists
Ayahuasca and Sao Pedro with a side of Exorcism
I personally love that 3 of the top 10 are about plant medicines, Ayahuasca, and spirituality. I love it because I didn’t write any other articles on these topics. I produced a small amount of content based on my experiences, and those were the most popular of the year.
I also love that a lot of the top performers were about self love 🙂 I always believe that the most important relationship you have in life is the one you have with yourself, and it was fulfilling to see these articles perform well as I was implementing these practices into my life. Amazing validation.
What were my personal favorite articles from this year though, irrespective of performance? The ones that resonated most with me and were reflective of my evolutions in thought?
- Wait for the chemicals to hit – Maybe it’s the recency effect because I just released this one recently, but it’s an example of all the dots in my head connecting in a new way. I wrote this because of my learnings in the world of flow, and then applying it to my highline training, and then seeing how it relates to everything else in life. It’s really a mantra that I now have in a variety of circumstances in life. It’s how I look at shifting my state. Rather than bland self help techniques, this is actually backed in neuroscience. Getting neurochemicals working for your benefit. And this is a summary of everything that I learned this year. I love this article.
- Autotelic vs. Whiteknuckling – Again maybe its the recency, but the word Autotelic is one that has really defined my year. Falling into the process for the sake of enjoying the process. Doing things not for the result but for the enjoyment. All of that is wrapped up into the word autotelic. It also really rounded out my thinking with self love and get weird – why do I like to give myself love and get weird? BECAUSE THE PRACTICES ARE AUTOTELIC! It was the perfect way to round out the learnings from this year in a new way.
- Self Inflicted Stress – This article really sums up my personal thoughts on enlightenment and personal awakening, and it’s really fucking simple. Don’t make life harder on yourself than it needs to be. Don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily. Worrying, anxiety, fear, struggle and suffering – they are all created in the mind. If you don’t react to it and make it harder on yourself than it needs to be, this is how we reach enlightenment – living in a state where we’re not harming ourself with how we think and behave.
- Why you should hang out with “toxic” people – I love this one because it’s a 180 from how I felt the previous year. Last year I was all about creating boundaries and getting away from the “Energy Vampires”. Now, I realize that the toxic people are the ones who need the most help. More importantly, we live in a world where everyone seeks confirmation bias, and I see this trend of everyone labelling the people who disagree with themselves as “Toxic”. People who are different give us an opportunity to mix with those who disagree with us and not get upset by it and learn to co-exist. I just overall love the thinking in this article.
- The Feelgood Feedback Loop – Again this is another one that really wraps up my personal philosophy. If we look back on our past and that makes us smile in the present, and if we have a future that we can look forward to and be excited about, we create a positive feedback loop of how to consistently feel and operate at our best. It’s a system I still think about and build practices around.
Bonus “flowy” articles –
There were two articles this year that were just fucking fun to write, that flowed out of my fingertips and are burned into my brain as a deep flow experience. One was “Wordplay with insanity”, this one just felt like a comedy skit I was performing on stage. The other was “my lifelong journey of chasing flow states” – I remember I was in Italy when I wrote that one, fresh off a hash cookie and a cup of espresso. I must have been sitting at my computer for 2-3 hours straight in a trance. Ah that was fun 🙂
Favorite Books –
This year I was able to read a total of 27 books! In the last few years now, I have been able to go from 10 (2016)> 29 (2017)>19 (2018)> 27 (2019). Consistent again (at least in the sense of consistently reading). Looks like I’m yet to crack the 30 mark…but I’m not going to set that as the goal as I just want to enjoy reading. If I hit 30 so be it. I’ve set my goal as 25 for this year, give or take a modest 2/month. I can do that 🙂
Having said that, here are my favorite books this year….
The Dark Tower Series – Steven King
This year in reading was really defined by this series. I read books 3,4,5,6,7 throughout the year. It was an incredible tale. Felt amazing to immerse myself in a work of fiction like that. It was also great to have read right after The Hero with a Thousand Faces, as it just made me that much more eager to carve out my own Hero’s Journey and learn from the literary genius of Steven King.
This was the year I discovered Alan Watts, my new favorite philosopher and thinker. What a brilliant mind. So many of his thoughts are things I have written about, it was like hearing someone echo all of the thoughts and ideas I have been playing around with. This is a book I listen to over and over and over again. I frequently open up to a random chapter and just start listening. Each time I listen I learn/pick up on something new. I also frequently fall asleep to him at night as well. Love this book!
The true story of a man who makes all of his decisions by the roll of the dice. Fucking crazy journey. Absolutely insane. Fun read that will make you squirm in your seat with discomfort. Loved this tale and all of it’s chaos. Great philosophical journey as well.
This book I include because I’m really starting to see the value in community and shared experiences. I had already seen the studies on longevity and community, but this book really shows the value of relationships and shared struggle in a new light. Instant top 10 all time. Simple and quick read. Loved it.
My intentions for 2020 and beyond
I don’t like the word resolutions. I prefer to use intentions. Values. Themes. Principles. To use and follow and act as a guiding light throughout the new year.
So entering into 2020, here are some of the things on my mind.
First things first, how did I do on the resolutions I set for 2019? Did I follow through? Kind of. I’d say I went 50/50.
Three were doubling down on the wins (do more of what is already working), be consistent, and less is more. Those were three things I feel like I did a good job of this year. As I wrote earlier, it felt like an extension year, and I was consistent in what I did, and I focused on doing less. Big wins in those categories.
In the category of investing more in myself and putting my money to work, I’d say I fell short here. I definitely spent more money on myself than ever before, but I didn’t do it in an intelligent investment kind of way. No tangible investments of any kind. This is something that will now carry over into this year.
Last was working out the kinks physically. I’d say I did a good job of improving my physical health. I’m in better shape than I ever have been before. I’m more or less injury free. But I still have a long way to go. Still need to improve my posture and work out those kinks. So I’d give myself a 50/50 here and say good but not great.
Now having said that, what am I thinking for 2020? More of the same with some new.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency – It feels like 2018 was change directions. 2019 was finding a path. 2020 will now be staying on the path I’ve carved out for myself. I need to be consistent to stay on that path. Keep doing what I’ve been doing. Build off the momentum I’ve built for myself. Continue to be consistent, and improve consistency wherever I can.
- I want a home – I don’t know if I will be able to do this in 1 year, but I’m really feeling the need to have a tangible home of some kind. I want to be based for the majority of the year somewhere. Invest in a house or a piece of property somewhere in Brazil. Or at least start doing the research. Start putting in the ground work. Put in the initial effort necessary to be able to position myself to be able to invest in a piece of property come 2021.
- I want to find love – 2019 was the year of self love. Learning to love myself and my flaws. Being myself in all of my color. Falling into place with myself. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m lonely for female companionship. I live an amazing life, I want to share that life with someone. Grow with someone. Build a life and a future together over shared mutual values. I don’t know if this will happen this year, it might need to be another year of self love and self healing, but last year I legitimately didn’t want a relationship or love. This year, I’m throwing that intention out into the world. I’m ready, and not in a needy kind of way, but in a way where it’s coming from a place of sharing my abundance rather than fulfilling an empty need. Serving from my overflow rather than filling my cup.
- Be more generous and share my abundance – Building on the above of serving from my overflow, I really want to share my abundance with others. Now that I make great money and have great resources, I want to share that with others. It doesn’t have to be in huge ways either. Cooking meals for people. Inviting people over to my house. Dedicating time to friends of mine who want help or advice with something. I love the philosophy of “Nois”, and I overall want to embrace more of a “we” mindset. Everything is ours to share, and I want to be a part of that sharing mindset.
- Mind, Body, Breath – The highline has showed me the importance of the synergy of the three most important things – the quality of your mind, your physical health in your body, and your breathing. In order to highline I have to get all three of those in sync with each other. Mentally that means continuing to dive deep into my meditation practice and keeping a calm mind. Body that means correcting my posture, stretching every day and remaining loose so that I avoid injury. Working out the kinks in my groin, lower back, mid/upper back, and shoulders. Breathing wise that means stop smoking pot so much, do more breathing exercises and breath work, master my breathing and get it cleaner than it ever has been before.
- Dream Journal – Building on the above, the ultimate healing mechanism is sleep. I’ve always felt like I’ve been disconnected from my dreams, as I don’t really remember them at all. This year I want to dive into the dream world and build that relationship with myself. I want to become a better dreamer and record it all down!
- Invest – this one is simple. I said I would do it last year and I didn’t follow through. I want to invest a bit. I will probably follow the advice of my two brothers and do a mix of their suggestions. On the risk averse side play around with Wealthfront. On the more risky side make some intelligent bets on companies I believe in and learn the process of investing.
- Less aimless social media – I’m ashamed to say that this year I started using social media more often and now I find myself checking instagram several times throughout the day. This is something I’ve never done before. Ive even had mornings where I wake up and look at instagram, and that scares the shit out of me. This year it’s back to the basics, extended chunks of time in airplane mode and only use instagram or other social media at the bare minimum.
- More methodical social media – On the flip side of the above, I need to get better at the social media side of promoting myself and my writing. I have a lot of amazing content and I barely distribute it or spend much time trying to. I want to have a consistent content calendar this year. More of the old, more of the new, more quotes, more videos. I want to get it all scheduled out and be more consistent with growing my social media presence and building my audience for my writing.
- Write!!!!! I save this one for last because I honestly don’t have a clear goal. But I do feel that one is right around the corner. There are a few larger projects I have in mind and I have a good feeling that one (or all) of them will lead me in the direction I want to be going. So for now it’s the same as consistency – just write and execute and continue to cross off the list of topics I want to carve out. It hasn’t lead me astray just yet and I don’t plan to deviate any time soon.
Final Thoughts –
I love this writing exercise. I do it mostly for myself, and I find this therapeutic to do. In general though, you can use a similar format for yourself.
Ask yourself, “what happened”, and write it all down. Then “What did I learn?”. “What did I do well vs where do I need to improve?” “What books did I read and why was it impressionable?” Then based on everything you learned, what do you need to do better for the next year coming in order to succeed and accomplish what you want.
High level if I could summarize my goals for 2020, it’s crush my work life and have the most lucrative financial year of my life, keep my mind/body/breathing in check by correcting my posture and doing breath work, on the writing front dive into the longer projects. On the life and relationships front, find love. On the future front, find a home to carve out.
Keeping it small. Simple. Not adding anything into this. Flow. Highlines. Writing. Love. Home. That’s it. Crush it well in all these categories and position yourself for another year of success in 2021.
So here’s to the end of reflecting and now starting to get into action. Now I feel ready to tackle 2020 with a smile 🙂