Hookers, Bodyslams, and Eating Cute Little Puppies: 2011 in Review

by Alexander Heyne · 21 comments

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 

-Albert Einstein

2011 in review

I first ran into the idea of an annual review over at Benny Hsu’s site, and thought it would be an awesome idea.

Why? Unless you are in grad school or are in a job you plan on staying in, you probably lack structure to your life, and thus suffer from the “WTF do I do with my life?” syndrome.

The easiest way to fix that is to set a goal – any goal, and then do it.  That’s why a review of the year is important, assuming you didn’t have any goals to meet from the year before.  And why start it now, and not the new year?

Honestly, how many people have new years resolutions that they keep? 1%? .01%?

If you need something fixed in your life, make a resolution now, not next year.

So, without further ado, let’s see what I did right, where I screwed up, and what’s going on in 2012 (it is the end of the world, after all :) ).

I am mostly going with a black/white format: #1 what I did #2 what sucked #3 what I did right. #4 What’s next.

I’m also going to answer a lot of the questions Benny has on his worksheet.

What I did in 2011

  1. Quit a job that wasn’t right for me
  2. Moved to China
  3. Learned to speak Chinese with a pretty good level of fluency after 11 months
  4. Made some of the closest friends I ever have since I was a child
  5. Gained 25 pounds of muscle (a long-time goal of mine! Yep, i’m a fatty)
  6. Started Milk the Pigeon and laid out my first post in August (The Generation of Dreamers is Dead)
  7. Moved back into my childhood home
  8. Met up with an old friend, now business partner, and started 2 other entrepreneurial ventures that will make us $1,000,000 by 29 (Hehe)
  9. For the first time in my life, got seriously interested in business, and in the past 6 months have read ~1 business bestseller/week
  10. Spent the month of november writing an entire 56 ebook, Killing Your Old Life and Living the Dream, detailing my long-time philosophy on why most of us aren’t happy — and how to fix it.

I’m Most Proud Of

  1. Having the balls to create my own life and move to China, learning Chinese so quickly, and doing Chinese Wrestling and Taichi 3 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Getting the entrepreneurial bug, and starting 3 projects at once that I still work on daily, 7 days a week.
  3. Deciding 2012 (ideally my 25th birthday on 4/20) will be the last year I work for someone else — whatever that entails, freelancing, eating dirt, moving back to China.

— One of my original reasons for moving to China was to continue with martial arts, and really try to find the most hardcore people I could find.  I wanted to take a break from “the real world” and train a lot – a couple hours a day minimum, while I still had the time as a young person.

The first half of a year while there, I was training pretty intensively with a couple buddies – usually at least 3 hours a day.

Eventually, between the brutal tai chi teacher and too much Chinese wrestling, I was waking up with more black eyes and bruises than I could recover from and had to scale down.  It was impossible to continue studying Chinese 4-6 hours a day, and train that much, I was burning out.

— One surprising thing that happened was me getting interested in business.  My undergrad BS Is Conservation Biology – A mixture of pre-medical classes and environmental biology.

I always thought I hated business and that it was stupid, but the bug got me and I met the right people at the right time.  And here I am now — a year later I’m making a pledge to be working for myself.

The Three Best Lessons I’ve Learned

  1. Be wary of assuming the grass is greener somewhere else. I wrote a huge post on my biggest failure to date, which was basically escaping where I was living currently because everything sucked – and I assumed my problems wouldn’t exist anywhere else.
  2. If you don’t like something about your life – change it. Black and white. Don’t look for any grey area.
  3. Good friends change everything — even if it’s just a couple.

Three Personal Developments I’ve Made

  1. Learned to keep a sharp mind. Whenever you start something of your own, or you go against the grain, you are confronted by a serious number of haters or simply doubters.  That’s life.
  2. I started hanging out more with people I want to be like, both in real life and in online networks
  3. Started reading more (almost exclusively) about business — something I formerly hated learning about.

If I Could do Things Again I Would do These Three Things Differently

  1. Not move back to somewhere comfortable (home) — Sorry mom & dad.
  2. Let friends have less of an influence over my personal decisions in life
  3. Not lose sight of personal freedom — and see if whether or not the next job/girl/friend/opportunity is conducive to my goals no matter how good-to-be-true the offer sounds

– I think one of my biggest mistakes of the year honestly was moving back home.  It was comfortable, I didn’t know what to do after China and having such a productive year, and most of my good friends left.

Going back to the last place that was comfortable and easy and expected is usually not a good idea in my book. It puts you back in familiar territory, and in general hinders progress in just about every facet of your life.  It lets your mind get lazy.

I also know that, personally, I lose a lot of motivation to work hard when I’m at home.

Alas, big things planned for 2012.

– Another big thing is not losing sight of my own definition of freedom. For me, that currently entails — working for myself in the near future and moving out of the United States in the next 6-9 months.

That means, if I stick to my own personal definition of freedom, I shouldn’t be taking any jobs where I feel like I’m obligated to stay for the rest of my life.  I also shouldn’t let people sucker me into staying longer than makes me happy — even if it goes against what they want.

The sad truth is that, in my opinion, you should never let a job / guy / girl / friend / family stop you from doing what makes you happy – even if it means breaking a lot of hearts.

Three Things I Need to do Less Of

  1. Wake up late
  2. Not go out
  3. Work for people I don’t like, or for a company whose purpose I don’t believe in

— Waking up late is new to me. I’m a morning person.  My ideal time to wake up is like 8:15, but for some reason this past year I’ve been sleeping to noon in my off days, which is definitely unlike me. I chalk it up to being bored and not motivated

— Regarding working for people/causes I don’t believe in, this is pretty big.  I plan on 2012 being the last year I work for someone else — I don’t think it’ll be that difficult to get a couple small income streams, adding up to ~2k/month to start. That is more than enough to keep me on my feet while in China.

But until I am working for myself, I’d like to see two things possible: working for someone I like, or for a cause I believe in. I’ve never had a job with a purpose or mission I believed in where I had the ability to directly influence the future, so that would be pretty amazing.

Alas, beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Three Things I Need to do More of in the Next Year

  1. More projects
  2. Network more, a lot more
  3. Get an entrepreneur-based social life

— More projects. I know that one of my personal strengths is creating products and getting projects done.  When I have a clear goal in site “get xxx done by xxx date” I am a productivity guru.

Like getting my ebook done – I had a couple chapters I wanted to write, and a due date — 30 days — to write it.  And it was immensely fun and I invested hours into the project easily because I got into the zone.

I need more of that.

— Network more.  One thing that makes me really uncomfortable is going out to deliberately meet people. I have no problems in a club, no problems in a bar, but as a former introvert, I hate the idea of going out to network.

Unfortunately for me, the world runs on connections, so I need to be a much bigger socialite and connector.  I particularly need to work on my business connections to see how I can help other people out.

Three Things I Need to Completely Stop Doing in the Next Year

  1. Working for other people
  2. Talking about my future plans
  3. Thinking I can do it all on my own

— Talking about my future plans.  It gets pretty comfortable talking about your future plans.  It’s easy to say “Look, I work 12 hours a day 7 days a week, of course i’m going to be a millionaire, just watch!”

It takes real stones to just sit down and do it.  Be vague about your plans.  Say you’ll see how things go, but you’re still working bloody hard on them.

I need to just have my own plan and stick with it, and if people ask, give them an idea of what I’m doing but no specifics.  And if they ask if i’ll make any money, just shrug and say “We’ll see” and smile it off.

Talk is cheap. And it definitely dilutes the work you get done.

— I’m also notorious for thinking I can do it all on my own. I have a good work ethic – and I know it – but it doesn’t discount the fact that almost nothing gets achieved on earth in a vacuum.  You need other people, they need you.

I need a reminder of that.

Three Reasons I Didn’t Achieve Some Goals

  1. Overestimated myself
  2. Didn’t clarify what I wanted from my life
  3. Didn’t balance my life properly

— I can say I overestimated myself last year – I was (and usually am) far too ambitious. I intended on keeping 3-6 hour training regime daily, in addition to 4 hours of chinese class, partying, and still getting enough sleep.

Big failure.  I think the goals were still realistic – but I lost motivation and then ended up just feeling like I failed.  Motivation has got to match the dream.

— I also didn’t clarify what I wanted at some points of last year. It was just “kung fu, learn chinese, travel, party.”  When part of my equation failed, I started to lose my purpose and ended up just studying, traveling and partying.

— China was a huge lesson in moderation for me. I had saved up about 10-15k to travel the world, party, ponder my life, and take a hiatus. Well, I managed to take that year off —  and burned every dime I had. I was tired of the work I was doing, and went crazy.  Won’t happen again (can’t, really).

Three Goals I Want to Achieve in the Next Year

  1. Establish at least two extra income stream that make 2k/month
  2. Re-root myself in China and help establish an Asia-based Summit / Meeting / Conference
  3. Become an expert networker

— Income streams. I’m currently working on 3 projects (including Milk the Pigeon) that will hopefully be bringing in some revenue in 2012.

I’m hoping that that these 3 streams will be the first projects that make me financially independent in my life, which would be huge as a 24 year old — freedom while young — no greater blessing.

— I am definitely moving back to China in the next 6-9 months, but I really want to get a summit going out in Asia /SE Asia. I recently talked with Cody over at Thrilling Heroics and it is a long-term goal of his. Hopefully I can help him out!

Smartest Decision I Made Last Year

Moving to China was by far the best decision I made last year, and it was the only big decision.

I was working in a school district in a good job that wasn’t too shabby, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I took a year off to meditate on my life and figure out what I wanted to do — and end up having the most productive/enjoyable year of my life (by far).

Last year surpassed any year in terms of enjoyment by 10x. I intend to do the same with this next year.

Biggest Risk I Took Last Year

I think moving to China with a weak plan pretty much covers that.

One Sentence That Sums up the Year

Mind-blowing.  Really was an exceptional year – both in terms of fun, but also in terms of productivity.  Toss in my own personal work into the equation and it pretty much works out to an ideal day in the life.

One Year From Now an Ideal Day in The Life Will Look Like This

Waking up relatively early without an alarm.

Working a productive 3-6 hours on my own projects, in strategic bursts.  The projects are all of my own doing, my own thinking, and of my own direction (or including a friend/business partner). One burst in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Any extra time is devoted to fire I have in my head, new projects, and researching potential new muses.

A long 2 hour lunch with a new friend I’ve made who wants to discuss business.

Living wherever I want (at the moment, preferably Asia).

Nice long dinners with good friends and plenty of red wine.

Being able to freely say: “Yeah let’s go!” and then just randomly run off to a museum for the day, in the middle of my work. Freedom.

What about you? What’s Your Ideal Day in the Life?

 

Edit: The title comes from 3 things: Hookers – of which I saw in just about every club in BJ and was a little slow to catch on, Bodyslams – I got a ton of from my Chinese Taichi teacher who is a bodyguard for the communist party, and Eating Cute Little Puppies – I ate dog meat in a korean hot pot, and we speculated it was probably a cute one because it tasted great!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Benny December 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Man my headline is so boring compared to yours! Hahaha

Great job. Really enjoyed reading more about you and your year. It’s pretty amazing what a change in scenery will do.

Conservation Biology major doesn’t scream out entrepreneur for sure. :)

Are these all your pics? I assume they are. Great shots.

I can imagine you were maybe thinking all these girls must like me and that’s why they’re talking w/ me. Haha. Then you realize they’re after your wallet.

Don’t think I could eat dog meat. I’m sure it tastes fine but the thought of eating it, is not pleasing.

Look forward to following along on your journey next year and watching you hit all your goals.

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afheyne December 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Ahaha no worries man. Every likes Benny already and is willing to read your stuff ;) Everyone sees Milk the Pigeon and thinks, “Uhh.. milk the.. wtf?”

Haha yeah conversation biology is your major when you are confused in life and don’t know whether to be a doctor or a biologist. I chose both, haha.

Yeah these pictures are all mine.

RE: the hookers. Hahah totally! I would be in really nice upscale lounge bars and there were these crazy good looking women from my age to my mom’s age — and they were just eying guys. None did anything, none would come dance on the dance floor. It was hilarious.. and finally one of us got prospected. I asked her name and she goes, 五百, hahah! Her name was her price tag..

Yeah I was on the fence about dog meat. But honestly curiosity got the best of me, and after learning that a lot of rural Koreans eat it on a daily basis, I gave it a go. Really nothing special, a lean meat, supposedly pretty healthy, fatty texture.

2012 is going to be the most exciting year for sure

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Beto December 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hey Alex – I don’t really remember at this point how I found your blog (Twitter, probably) but I always like to hear about people pushing it on their own as this fills me with lots of inspiration and motivation for my own life. Although I’m almost pushing 40, I don’t feel like I’m “done” at all with my purposes in life.

Probably the biggest blessing for me this year was that the former place I worked at closed doors – since that allowed me to get a job that technically allows me to work from anywhere. It’s what I always wanted, really. And I’ve been in talks with a friend about moving to Brazil for an extended time next year.

I’ve been feeling running in circles lately with my day-to-day life lately and since I’m a passionate traveler I know that exposing myself to new realities and scenarios is the best thing for me to get out of the comfort zone – which I’d rather call as “stuck in a rut”. And you’re absolutely right about doing what makes you happy even if that disappoints those around you. No one of them is going to live your life anyway. It may sound selfish, but that’s the truth.

Anyway, wishing you the greatest on the next year, which I also hope it to be a life-changing year for me as well. :)

PS: You should explain the title of the blog someday.

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afheyne December 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Beto,

Awesome that you found your way over.

That’s good news about your new job, was is just serendipity or was it something that you had been working towards for a while? Either way, sounds awesome. I’m working my way towards there at some point too!

Like you said for me one of the scariest things is that feeling of running in circles, it’s just existing.. Totally agree on your self-prescription being an adventure. FOr me that is the best way to break new limits and transcend the comfort zone.

Re: doing what you love even if you have to break hearts. It’s something I’ve pondered a lot in my life. I have a lot of traditional Asian friends where familial honor and expectations are the be-all end-all, and doing something that makes you happy but your family unhappy is like killing a cow as a Hindu. You just don’t do it.

But for me I’ve realized that at the end of the day, when you look in the mirror you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. Was it worth it?

Cheers to making 2012 the best year for you!

Re: the title of milk the pigeon. Check out the about page, near the bottom. It’s an old-English saying

Please to meet you!

Alex

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Sam December 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

The end of the year is great – all these funny and interesting posts that come out about everyones year in review. I enjoyed reading yours. Hope that 2012 is a great year for you to.

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afheyne December 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Thanks sam!

I hope the same is true for you —

Alex

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Laura Kimball December 31, 2011 at 2:20 am

Okay, awesome 2011 roundup and goal setting for the next year. I’ve been trying to come up with a better comment to drop here but I can’t — thank you for sharing Benny’s template and your own answers :)

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Afheyne December 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Lamiki —

Ahaha my pleasure. Interested to hear what you got going on too!

And Benny is a hell of a guy so I recommend you read his stuff too

Alex

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Laura Kimball January 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Alright, puppy eater, the blog post is live. Enjoy: http://lamiki.com/2011/12/imbalance-burnout-and-change-2011-year-in-review/

Happy New Year, Alex :)

LJ January 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Hello,

Greetings from The Philippines!

I found your blog when I read your post about “why i haven’t earned a dime on my blog?” it was really helpful.

I just finished reading your manifesto. It was good and I really learned a lot from it. Thank you for sharing it, it really made me reevaluate and assess what I am doing right now with my life.

Thank you for making me wake up.

All the best for the new year!

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afheyne January 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

LJ

Kumusta ka? :)

Thank you for the kind words, I hope you find the blog and manifesto useful.

I hope you stop by again soon!

Alex

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Jon Poland January 5, 2012 at 1:51 am

Alex — I have always had admiration for those who take the “Road Less Traveled.” Congratulations on leaving your comfort zone in 2011 and turning your life into an incredible adventure. A lot of people think about it, but very few have the guts to do it. Your writing and the Helen Keller quote I found on your blog has inspired me to rethink what I am doing. Thanks for the inspiration.

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afheyne January 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Jon,

Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with —

Alex

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Stefanie January 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

So glad I found your blog. What an exciting and adventurous life you lead. I love how you broke down the year into what worked, what didn’t, and what next. I’d consider you a “mentor” on my networking list! Thanks for sharing your insights. I found you through Newtworked Bloggers where you wrote a great article. I enjoy your creativity, boldness, and writing style. Will be watching.

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afheyne January 6, 2012 at 12:35 am

Stefanie,

Thank you, I do what I can. Let me know if I can help you with anything — I’ll be here for a while ;)

Alex

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Stefanie January 6, 2012 at 1:39 am

Well, for starters, you can check out my blog! Ha! Seriously, though, thanks for answering and being authentic. It is refreshing. Also, I am in awe of all the value you create for readers with free ebooks, pictures, insights, and being available. You actually answer comments. Nice! If you are serious about helping, I will take you up on that. I just started my blog about my experiences as a Pro/Am competitive ballroom student about a month ago but it has already gained some traction and I am deeply passionate about it…probably similar to your relationship with Martial Arts. Anyhoo, not sure how to formulate a strategic plan to leverage it. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Regardless, I’ll be staying tuned to your outrageous life adventures. Good for you for choosing to never settle and going after what you want no holds barred….something that many people give lip service to but something that is not really actively encouraged and supported. Okay, okay…I wax prolifically…(is that even a word?) Thanks for putting yourself out there and for the excellent article, “Wjy haven’t I made a dime with my blog?” I appreciate you. ‘Nuff said. -Stef

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afheyne January 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Stefanie,

Send me an email at Afheyne /at/ hotmail.com and we can talk easier. I’d be happy to help with whatever I can.

Alex

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afheyne January 2, 2012 at 12:24 am

Yayyyyy I’ll be over in a hot sec.

Happy New Year!

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