2015 in Review – How To Have a Bullshit-Free Best Year Ever

by Alexander Heyne · 34 comments

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Cartagena, Colombia

2015 was the best year of my life – easily. And a lot of really horrible shit happened.

Ever since I started Milk the Pigeon in 2011 (I think? Has it really been 5 years?), I had ONE, somewhat long-term goal:

Build a life that I could actually fucking enjoy day to day, and do that through self employment, which would give me freedom.

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When I started Milk the Pigeon, I didn’t have a goddamn clue how to live this amazing life I dreamed of.

I didn’t have a single role model that was self employed in an online business, traveling, doing whatever they were most passionate about, living the dream, and working daily towards the thing they loved.

It actually didn’t need to be self employment or an online business, but I didn’t know ONE person.

So I figured I would just figure it out myself. Later on, I found that there are lots of people doing this, most of whom appear to be entrepreneurs because they have the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they want.

Today, I want to highlight what really happened in the last year and the most important habit that I think allowed this stuff to happen.

Am I a millionaire? Hell no, not yet.

Am I some guru? Nope, don’t want to do.

Am I 100% living my dream? Not yet.

But this is the first time since I started Milk the Pigeon that I am happy almost every day – working on what I want – excited about my future and my vision and the road ahead. And I can share with you the exact habits I took to get there.

First – how it went. Second – how to make it a reality for yourself. Third – a very unique opportunity I’m offering in 3 weeks.

What Went Awesome (And Horrible) in 2015


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Let me tell you the ANTI highlight reel first.

I’m tired of this fucking entrepreneur bullshit where everyone tells you the highlight reel without the “REAL” reel, if you get what I’m saying.

Social media is great for seeing all the high moments of a person’s life, without anyone ever being honest.

That’s why on my personal facebook page, not only do I rarely post, but I very rarely post “highlight-reel” bullshit.

Here’s the reality of this last year.

  1. Despite what you see here, about 50% of this year I was unhappy on a daily basis. Overworked. Sleeping too little. Direction-less. Barely earning enough money to survive. Working three jobs at once including my business, when in reality, I only cared about my business – besides a Chinese Medicine gig I had, that rocked. Constant self-doubt, fear, not knowing if I was on the right path. Lots of waking up in a shit-eating mood.
  2. My closest friend killed himself. He was on the rise to the top, super successful, cleaned up his life, sure to be the next Tony Robbins. Shit just unraveled behind the scenes, and he chose to take a samurai’s death and go down with his honor in tact, rather than admitting to unraveling. It happened quick.
  3. I played and “had fun” way too little. In general, on a day to day basis, I appear to be a pretty serious guy. It’s not that i’m serious, it’s just that I work a lot, am super driven, and have a hard time being content – all good/bad traits.

Cool?

That’s what the average day looked like for me. I think it’s super important to highlight that, because the internet has an entirely fucked way of making you hate your life, even if you were happy five minutes ago.

If you ask me if I’m a happy person, I’ll say, “Yeah, moderately happy.”

I’m sure that’ll change, and I have mindset issues, but I need to be 100% honest with you so you don’t get discouraged. Just keep plugging away.

FYI – before my friend killed himself, he appeared to be 100% fine. I talked to him the day before, and he was crushing it in his business & life, on a high note, pushing upward and onward. Super successful, sure to be the next tony robbins.

You have no clue how someone feels behind the scenes, even if they’re a close friend. Don’t forget that.

Whew.

Now for the “good stuff.”

My First Real Book… And It Went WEll

First, my health book came out, hit #1 on 3 different health lists on Amazon, has gotten some amazing feedback (and emails almost daily).

Within a few hours of me notifying my health readers of the book, it was the #1 new release in healthy living.

A few weeks later, it was also the #1 new release in Nutrition, and another health and weight loss category.

Here it’s listed as kindle, but now it’s in print.

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It was also a few steps down from Tim Ferriss’ book 4 hour body which was pretty neat.

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I’ve been wanting to write a book (well, lots of books) ever since I started my health site and business, because A. It’s fucking cool to have a book, and for me it was surprisingly fun to write, and B. I really wanted to show people that there’s a different way to get the results they want physically.

I wanted to show people that the way to losing weight and feeling awesome (and living a great life, too) was about changing tiny habits, and then just staying the course.

It’s the same process I’ve used to get fitter, write my book, and really just figure out what the hell I was doing in my 20s.

Everything I’ve done (which honestly isn’t that much) has been because of doing tiny steps, done daily.

I was nervous that writing a book about weight loss – without ever mentioning what foods to eat – would backfire on me, but people liked it a lot.

Master The Day, in a strangely egotistical way, has kind of become my own mantra.

The #1 insight here for you is this: If you want to launch a book to “any kind” of bestseller status, build an audience long before.

I knew this, so I had “insider” knowledge. FYI Amazon isn’t a “real” bestseller – but it’s cool nonetheless.

#2 Went Full Time In My Business (Soon)

One of the biggest sources of both stress and enjoyment in the last three years has been building my business with a full time job.

I knew I wanted to create something that helped people, built an audience, etc, but also turned into a business.

And the reality is that working 3 hours a day after 9 or 10 hours at a job is extremely tiring and stressful by itself.

This year was the first time I scaled down my day job to half time, and I could sleep decent hours, have less stress, and really regain some work life balance.

I’ve been working 7 days a week for 3 years straight – that’s 1095 days I’ve worked every day on my business, give or take a week here and there.

#3 ‘Found’ My Calling/Passion

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Really, the biggest “win” of anything this year was this: I found my calling/passion – Chinese Medicine – got accepted to my #1 school, and am moving to Portland, OR in August.

THE biggest question of my 20s has been simple, “What the fuck should I do with my life?”

And when I really narrowed that down, I realized what I was really asking was, “what should I really do for a career?”

I didn’t know that this was the question I was actually asking myself, but I realized that since we work 10 hours a day for our entire lives, it better be something we enjoy (or see a lot of value in doing).

It was when I was reading through the book Mastery by Robert Greene that something finally clicked for me.

In the book, he talks about all the old classical masters of antiquity, as well as some new ones, like Paul Graham, and despite absolutely loving this book, I realized something.

First… the PATH people took to find “their thing” was almost never a straight line.

Seriously, it would’ve been fucking awesome if it were that easy (like I said), but most of these people took years or many decades to find “their thing.”

Steve Jobs once said that he was very lucky to have found his calling at a young age – and I agree.

So I figured the sooner I found my thing, the sooner I could gain mastery, and most of all, just “play in a great river of interest” as Earl Nightingale said.

Anyway, when I was reading this book, you know how you visualize images and scenes when you read?

I found myself seeing myself as this old doctor-merlin-shaman type physician of the future, administering treatments, experimenting with herbal formulas, and more, and it just gave me chills.

Every page, the same image popped up.

I ignored it for the time being, and just got on with my life. A few months went by, and every time I came across Chinese Medicine, I’d get these full body chills. Then they became more and more often, and finally, every day I would wake up and it would be in my head.

It just wouldn’t leave me alone. When I finally researched schools (it’s a 4+ year doctoral program before I can practice), I got chills reading the curriculum, and would read it over, and over, and over.

I had found my thing.

Biggest source of angst in my 20s – gone almost overnight.

#4 – Got Featured in Ramit Sethi’s “Zero To Launch” Course

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One of the cool, random things that happened this year was that I was featured in Ramit Sethi’s new course on how to build a successful online business.

Seeing as I’ve been a huge fan (especially curious as to how he built his business), it was really valuable for me to sit down with him, basically get a free coaching session on growing my business more, and I found we had a lot in common.

#5, Worked With (Another) One of the Biggest Online Marketing Gurus

Ryan Lee

As I was transitioning out of my day job, I was looking for more part time work that required less time (and was more useful for the direction I was going in). I ended up – by adding value, following along, and a little luck – working for Ryan Lee – one of the biggest internet marketin gurus, who has taught most of the people you and I are familiar with.

He lives close to me here in CT, and I took his advice, never asked for anything in return, and when he opened up a job opportunity, I was the first to email him back – and I got it.

I did coaching calls with him, and even ran some of the calls 100% by myself on the days when he wasn’t there or on vacation.

And I was the first person ever to work with him at his home, sitting on the laz-y-boy, doing webinars. It was pretty cool, but stressful as hell.

It’s not easy working for an entrepreneur, and even though our trial period of a couple months was good, we both decided it would be better to go in different directions.

I also decided that if I was ever going to be that stressed out again, it should be just for myself and building my own legacy.

Lots of Travel

It started off early, when I was working remotely and went to social media marketing world in San Diego. I had originally booked tickets with my friend who passed away, but decided to go anyway to get my mind off shit.

San Diego is a nice place:

San Diego

I was also in L.A. seeing a Chinese Medicine school, and hanging out with family, and finally Portland to see the last Chinese Medicine school that I finally settled on.

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Hollywood, L.A., California

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Portland, OR

 Then I spent a few weeks in Colombia with my girlfriend later in the year.

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Parapente in Medellin

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Piedra del penol

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I think Cartagena

This coming spring, in April May and June I’m looking to rent an apartment in Paris and work remotely, then travel to the Philippines and meet my girlfriend for a couple weeks before classes officially begin and I move.

The #1 Thing That Helped Me Do All This (& Something to Remember)

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When I started MTP (2011 – 5 years ago), I had no fucking clue what I was doing with my life.

I share this for a very important reason – CHANGE DOES NOT HAPPEN FAST!

Seriously.

Don’t you think I WISHED I could build a six figure business in a year? Hell yeah, that would’ve been awesome! I’m still not there yet.

I’ve seen the timeline vary wildly, even among people hustling their asses off – there are so many damn other factors out of our control behind success. I’ve seen people make 100k in their first year that worked hard. I’ve also seen how 99% of online entrepreneurs never even make 100k.

Figuring out what I wanted to do with my “life” (aka career) took a long ass time too.

Think about this: I was writing articles here at 23, and thought/struggled DAILY with figuring out “my thing,” but it wasn’t until age 28 (5 years later) that I 100% “found” my calling and path (Chinese Medicine).

Don’t you think I wished I could’ve fucking figured that out 5 years ago?

Do you know how many shitshow jobs I worked in those intervening five years (over 10 – yes, an average of 2-3 jobs per year) PRAYING I could quit, stop earning $12 an hour, and do something cool that paid me well?

It takes time.

And the one thing that nobody wants to have is patience.

Remember that if you’re in the middle of the struggle, the dip, or the grind.

The #1 that helped me through this and stay consistent was my personal circle, my mastermind. We’ll talk more on this soon.

This is a big concept that’s been around for ages, but was really talked up in Think And Grow Rich.

A Limited (10 Person) Special Event Coming Soon…

Over the next few weeks, I want to do something new.

Something exclusive, something limited to 10 people max, and something where we could really work directly with each other to get awesome results.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of the principles that have allowed me to do this kinda stuff – it’s not about being rich and famous, just doing what you want, and being fulfilled in the process.

After, I’m going to open 10 spots for a new Milk The Pigeon mastermind – where you’ll personally be in a mastermind with me and 9 others, so this year can truly be the one where it all changes.

If you’d like to get in ASAP, I’ll send a waitlist link next week.

– Alex

Thoughts on this stuff? Share them below.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven February 2, 2016 at 2:52 am

Hi Alex,

Used to read tons of your articles back in 2013.

Read that you are coming to the Philippines! I live in the Chinatown District in Manila and work in Makati. By any chance you need any help/guide/tour here in the PH email me and I’ll do my best to help. Me and m

Steven

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Hey Steven, haha not sure If I’ll be in Manila this time, most likely Cebu, but I’ll definitely keep you posted :-)

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Emre February 2, 2016 at 4:13 am

Hey Alex!

It would be out of this world to be with the other 9 in the mastermind group. How can we get that chance?

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Hey Emre,

If you’re on the email list, stay tuned. I’ll introduce it in about 2 weeks.

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Mark February 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Hi Alex,

I am very happy for you and to read this.

I am going through a really difficult period right now and trying to figure everything out, I always connected to what you wrote about on this site and grateful for the time you put into writing these articles.

So thank you and very happy for you, good luck! :)

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Mark :-) Keep you posted, over the next few weeks i’ll go into some of these specific strategies much more.

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Mark February 3, 2016 at 8:42 am

I am looking forward to it, I have been coming back to this website a lot the past few months, thinking damn I want more posts! haha :)

Best of luck to you though, I love your vibe on everything, very much agree with your thinking, always find it awesome to read others that think this way as it helps clarify your own thoughts!

Bill Boteler February 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm

At least you always seek instead of taking what life hands out. I keep being drawn back to the same dreams and then I wonder if I’m doing the right thing to be that way.

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Hey Bill,

How have things been going? Have you made progress since we last chatted?

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Florent February 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Hey Alexander,

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, I’m a blogger too and I know how hard it can be to have both a full time job and a side business that we wish could grow and make some money.

That’s why this article really moved me and motivated me to start writing and working on it again.

So first of all, thank you for being open and honest, for sharing your struggles (which sometimes weirdly motivate me more than the success stories), it’s good to know you’re not the only one going through tough time.

I’m 25 years old and being looking for my passion for almost 3 years now, reading tons of books, taking courses, and reading blogs such as yours or Live your legend, puttylike, etc…

My main problem right now is figuring out which passion to choose, I feel like I have too many interests :

i’m studying cooking right now and I love it but I hate some part of it (working with unpassionate people, lack of freetime, lack of respect from bosses etc…)
I love music and have been passionate about it for over a decade but I don’t want to make a living out of it (it’s just not enough for me)

I love sport/nutrition/health too But I don’t feel like I have the experience to make a living out of it, and I don’t know/want to focus on solely one area (bodybuilding, fat loss, nutrition, longevity, alternative medicine, man’shealth)

I also love personal development, saving the environment, etc…
My biggest problems is that I don’t feel like giving up one of this passion at the profit of another. It’s just inconceivable to me.

To me it almost feel like asking a parent which of their child they like more. All of them have faults and annoying traits, but it’s almost impossible to choose.

Have you ever being in that kind of situation?

Do you have any advices for me?

Thanks in advance

And thanks again for all the work you did on that website, your blog posts are very valuable to me and many people, trust me ;)

Florent

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Hey Florent! Thanks for the honest reply – and yes, having multiple interests I had a very hard time dealing with.

Let me ask you this: which one of these can you talk about EVERY DAY for 10 years? That should remove at least 50% of them, ones that would be too unexciting, boring, or repetitive, you know? Start there.

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Marion February 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Hi Alex,

I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I had one question for you: A few years ago if I remember well, you left your home to go tavelling and living in China. Do you know, why , except going out of your comfort zone and seeing the world, you chose this country??? ;)
Wish you all the best in your new path!

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Alexander Heyne February 2, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Hey Marion,

I went to study Kung Fu and meditation – two interests of mine that I had for years :-)

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Kris McCauley February 2, 2016 at 8:58 pm

I am highly interested in working with you. I just started reading your articles today but have been reading Ramit Sethi for quite some time. Crossing my fingers to make the cut.

Regards,

Kris

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Alexander Heyne February 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Keep you posted Kris !

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James February 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Great to heat that you have found your calling and something you want to work towards! One thing that you don’t mention is the process towards finding out that Chinese medicine was your thing – i.e. experimentation, trying out different careers in this area. In other blog posts you mention the importance of not just enrolling in a degree program/ reading books, but really having evidence that it is the right thing. So that we loyal readers know that you’re not going against your advice, perhaps you could let us know what “tasters” you carried out ;-)

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Alexander Heyne February 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

YES! Huge question James, I’m going to share in an email next week :-) That’s the most important part – the process.

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Mikea February 3, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Alex, thanks for your inspiring blog and for being so honest about the downsides of life too. As I try to figure out my own life, yours is the website I keep going back to. God bless.

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Alexander Heyne February 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Glad to help Mikea :-)

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Dan February 4, 2016 at 7:47 am

Great post Alex and wonderful to know that you’re doing what you want to do (more or less) and about the success of the book. I can definitely relate to that feeling of not knowing whether you’re on the right path or not!

Looking forward to hearing about the mastermind.

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Alexander Heyne February 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Awesome, keep you posted Dan!

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Olivia February 4, 2016 at 2:29 pm

So happy that you found your calling Alex! Been reading your blog for a few years and your articles really do provide value to other people.

I’m 24 and feel very lost and behind because I don’t know what I want to do with my life specifically..so this makes me feel better!

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Alexander Heyne February 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Hey Olivia,

Is there any big burning question I can help you answer?

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Cara February 5, 2016 at 8:04 am

I am in the middle of a huge life overhaul right now (I’m 23) and this article was exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you!

Also I’ve been reading MTP since 2013 and it’s the best self-help resource I’ve ever read :)

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Alexander Heyne February 5, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Haha, glad you like it Cara :-) The early 20’s are tough – just keep plugging away daily and make progress, you’ll get there.

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KL February 6, 2016 at 11:39 pm

Congrats on your dreams manifesting!

I find that I’m most inspired by successful people’s “hustle” stories – being stuck in the 9 to 5 hell, crappy hourly wage, having your work rejected, etc. As an emerging screenwriter in LA, I’m encouraged knowing that Stephen King was rejected so many times while he was barely getting by on his little teaching salary. Or Terrence Winter quitting his job as an NYC lawyer and making no money while he pursued screenwriting in LA.

I quit my job as a reporter in DC to pursue this and I’m scraping by but I love the fact that I took control and I’m in Hollywood. And I remind myself that the great ones were tried through the same fire I’m going through now.

I’m sure your passion and hustle will work in your favor! But I do need to hate on you for a minute because you’ll be doing your thing in Paris! Je suis jalouse!!

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Alexander Heyne February 9, 2016 at 10:43 am

Hi KL,

Hahah, no need to be jealous – and congratulations on the L.A. move. I’m sure you know well – there are no guarantees in life at all, whether we work hard or slack off – but with a lot of work the chances of being successful (in every way) go up dramatically.

Keep plugging along – and who knows where this might lead you? Even if it doesn’t work out this time, it might lead you to your next big thing.

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Bruno February 10, 2016 at 12:13 am

Happy to you r writing entries again Alexander =)
I would love to be part of that 10 people group, will keep an eye on the email.
Cheers!

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Alexander Heyne February 12, 2016 at 12:04 am

Keep your eyes peeled Bruno :-)

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Peter March 24, 2016 at 1:17 am

Hey Alex,

I’ve been a fan of the blog for a while now and this is the first time commenting. Congrats on the awesome year, that had to be truly fulfilling.

I live out in Portland, Oregon. I’d love to shoot the shit with you on nutrition and acupuncture once you’re in town. I belong to this AMAZING rock climbing gym in town and would love to let you use my guest past so we could connect. Let me know man.

-Peter

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Alexander Heyne March 24, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Hey Peter –

I’m in! Shoot me an email: Heyne.alexander AT gmail.com, i’ll hit you up when I’m in town in August.

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isiah March 29, 2016 at 11:50 am

Good stuff… I came across your site a year and a half or so ago, specifically your post on “re-writing history and getting unlost.” That post shook me up and got me moving. Now, I’m lost again, and by mere chance came across this post of yours again. Lol.

Keep it up. I’m gonna bookmark your blog this time lol.

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Alexander Heyne April 2, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Haha, awesome, well let me know how else I can help! Keep on swimming

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Lu-Hai Liang October 12, 2016 at 3:10 am

Another great post.

It’s so true that 50% of daily life can kinda suck. I remember last year, when I became a full-time freelancer around March, that the summer just sucked. Four months of depressing heat and entropy, stuck on my couch in Beijing, thinking about how I was going to survive and make rent. But things picked up after September. Funny how things can just work out.

2016 has been great so far: traveled to Spain, Thailand (twice), Hong Kong, a bunch of mainland Chinese cities.

You should totally do the Chinese Medicine thing and then become a high-level expert and move to China. I wrote an article a few years ago about a British guy who is reverse-engineering about how to become a TV chef by being one in China — http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/the-other-jamie-on-a-food-mission-meet-the-chef-teaching-people-in-the-east-to-love-western-food-8857143.html

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