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2016 Year in Review

year in review

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s the season to reflect. Now is the perfect time for a “year in review” blog post.

It’s nearly the second full year that Alison and I have been in one place, after leaving Seattle (home for 14 years) and wrapping up over a year of travel. If I had to pick a word that best represents 2016, it would be stability. We finally have reached a point where we have a stable home (albeit a rental), stable income (sorta, more on this later) and a stable and growing group of friends. All of this made us feel like Colorado was home.

I pushed my boundaries in a few areas, specifically when it comes to health and business, and hit a wall or two along the way. I frame this Year in Review against the backdrop of my wheel of life. I love the wheel of life model for setting goals since it necessitates a holistic view of one’s life. I’ve discovered that whenever progress occurs in one area, other areas are beneficially impacted. In this post are comments on what happened in each area of my personal wheel of life in 2016, and what I learned along the way.

1) Health

2016 started out with a big and audacious goal. I had run half a dozen ultra-marathons over the past few years, ranging in from 50K to 50+ mile trail runs. I’ve also completed three Ironman triathlons in my life. One event, however, has eluded me, the 100-mile trail run.

I wanted 2016 to be the year I completed my first 100-miler. I wanted the race to be a mountain-ultra-trail-race, run in the high mountains and at high altitude. I choose the Silverheels 100 in August, outside of FairPlay, Colorado as my main endurance event for the year. It’s a small and locally-run race that doesn’t require a lottery to enter. It features tough trail (mostly above 10,000 feet altitude), and a grassroots feel.

My training built up slow and steady this year, with several 25+ mile trail runs and a 50-mile race in the months leading up to the 100-miler. After the 50 mile race in early June, life got busy for a few weeks. We decided to sell our home in Seattle and spent over a week renovating and dealing with preparations for the sale.

When I returned to training after dealing with our house, I was startled to find that I could barely run a mile without needing to walk. This led me to various lab tests and consultations with a medical doctor. I had massive chronic fatigue issues. Most concerning, my heart rate would spike and beat heavily at random times of day and night. It was affecting my daily life.

After taking a full month off of all training, the problem didn’t go away.

It was clear I was dealing with overtraining syndrome. My only cure was to take more time off and let my body heal. I also eliminated all caffeine (and over-the-counter allergy medicine I was taking). The removal of all stimulants rapidly improved my progress. Turns out my body runs more like a Ferrari than a Tank. I need to be careful what I put into it!

Long story short, it took three months to be able to train again. Now, almost six months later, I’m back to running, albeit no more than three miles at a time, a few days a week. My regular workout now involves swinging a kettlebell, doing some squats, deadlifts and walking uphill on a treadmill or step machine.

Instead of racing, I volunteered as the aid station captain at the Silverheels 100. Working for almost 48 hours straight (before/during/after) the event gave me insight into what it takes to run and complete such an event. I have a newfound respect for the distance.

I feel great about having completed my 50-miler earlier this year…the 100-miler will have to wait.

North Fork 50
That’s me during the North Fork 50-miler. There is a lot of walking in 50-mile “runs”

Aside from the running, I’ve taken to waking up earlier than normal, before 6 am on most days and occasionally before 5 am. I’ve been meditating more consistently as well. The result of these behaviors is that I feel better about my productivity and accomplishments at the end of each day.

Learning

The lesson in all of this has been the reminder that without health, it’s very hard to be happy and feel fulfilled. Waking up in the middle of the night with a racing heartbeat, and the worry that I was dealing with a severe issue (I’m not) made it crystal clear what my priorities are and should be. To take care of anything else in my life, I need to take care of my health first!

Also, I learned that I need to continue to make the most of the golden hours before 9 am. Mornings are when I do my best work, and I should focus on maximizing my productivity and focus during these precious hours.

2) Family

The benefit of Alison and I being entrepreneurs, with my business location-free, is that we get to spend a ton of time together. This was a concern when I started my business. As a self-described loner, I’ve always been very comfortable with and have preferred solitude. How would I react to being around my wife and dog all day long?

The answer, it turns out, is that I enjoy it a lot.

We focus on our work when we need to. We play in the mountains every reasonable chance we get. This year we’ve visited countless trails and several mountain towns, including Crested Butte, Aspen, Leadville (twice), FairPlay, Frisco, Salida/Buena Vista and more.

I’ve been back to the East Coast, Bay Area and Minnesota a few times each to visit family and for trips to visit clients. I’ve had more Skype sessions with family as well as plenty of WhatsApp chats.

All in all, there has been a lot of quality family time this year compared with any other year.

Learning

I need to be intentional about making trips out and about to visit family, and also to make sure Alison and I are getting out of the house and exploring.

One thing that has worked well for us is to sequester certain “fun” weekends on our calendar at the start of the summer/winter seasons. We plan our fun family time just like we would any work-related engagement. This ensures that even is work gets busy, we’ve protected this quality time.

3) Career

This has been the second year in my career shift to the world of coaching and entrepreneurship.

2015 was very much about learning and just trying to figure out if I ENJOYED this profession if I was GOOD at it and if there was enough of a MARKET NEED where I could find paying clients. All three turned out to be true.

2016 was about scaling up my business to the point where it could pay the rent, put food on the table and otherwise, serve as a viable source of income. A big part of this was continuing to invest in my personal development, to support my clients in achieving bigger results. For the first time in the past two years, I maxed out on the number of 1:1 clients I was serving at one time this fall (a good problem to have) and raised my rates accordingly.

Running a service-based business isn’t simple, and I’m keenly aware that being booked solid at one point in time, doesn’t guarantee anything for the future!

2016 is also the year when I surpassed all the requirements (and hours of paid client experience) to be a Certified Professional Coach according to the International Coach Federation (ICF), the governing body for the coaching industry. This was a big milestone for me and something that seemed far off a few years ago. While it’s true that the standards for coaching are nothing like many other fields (and most coaches have ZERO credentials or formal coaching training), the ICF is quickly becoming a “thing” that corporate clients acknowledge.

Beyond that, I’m committed to this profession for the long-term and am happy to jump through hoops if it means that I learn tools and strategies that help my clients in the long-term.

Learning

The big learning from this year was to understand the undeniable connection between my own capacity and competency as a coach, the results my clients achieve, and the success of my business. The more competent I am, the bigger value I offer, the better results clients see, the higher the rate of referrals and business growth.

As a service provider who offers a purely intellectual based service (i.e. my intellectual capacity is what someone is purchasing when they do business with me, not a physical product), I must continue to evolve and improve as a person and as a coach, to continue to grow my business. The ROI is tangible. For 2017 I’ll continue to invest a large chunk of my earnings back into training and development.

4) Wealth

The major financial event of the year was selling our home in Kirkland.

I purchased the home in 2012 and thought I would live there forever. I could never have predicted the right turn I made in my lifestyle and career in late 2013. After renting the house to a few different families (luckily, for a positive monthly cash flow), I decided it was best to sell. The market was robust in Seattle this summer, and besides, the house was too nice to keep as a rental. Lovely floors. Copper countertops. Stainless steel appliances. Even just a few years of renters caused quite a bit of wear and tear.

Now its home for another lucky family!
Now, our (former) home is someone else’s dream home!

Paying off the mortgage and pocketing a nice rise in equity from the home sale gave us the mental freedom of knowing we were 100% now debt free for the first time in our married life. It also gave us the unexpected psychological benefit of feeling like we had officially moved from Seattle and settled in Colorado. For the previous year, we still felt half-way tied down to Seattle.

Now we are psychologically and physically Coloradans!

Furthermore, my coaching business reached a critical mass where my 1:1 client load was enough to cover our modest expenses without worrying if the business would actually fly or not!

Connecting with a few other successful online entrepreneurs has also given me greater confidence in the possibilities of online courses and other products that can extend my coaching impact beyond 1:1 client work. I also realize that I need to build a team to help myself scale. Executing on these ideas will be the priority for 2017.

Learning

My belief is that everyone’s goal in life is to be happy.

The big question is, “What makes you happy?”

For me, I know what makes me happy. I know how much it costs for me to have the things and experiences that go into creating a comfortable environment. Luckily, most of what makes me happy doesn’t have a price tag. I think everyone needs to get clear on what makes them happy and not chase someone else’s dream.

My income is a fraction of what I made in my corporate career. Many of my coaching clients are making an order of magnitude more per year than I am. Yet, I am far happier than I have been at any other point in my life. Go figure!

Part of me also understands that the upside and potential in running my business creates an expectation for the future full of hope and optimism. This possibility for unbounded future growth is a psychological benefit of real value. If the trends in my business continue, the next few years will be full of effort, but more stability as word of mouth increases and the business grows.

5) Home

Home for me is a broad term that reflects where I live (the area/region) and also the actual house or apartment I am in. In 2016 I realized just how much my home impacts my way of being and happiness.

Golden, Colorado is a wonderful place.

We moved here from Seattle because it has an environment full of things we wanted: the sunshine, great snow, epic trails, big mountains. It also gave us a chance at a fresh start, away from the familiar.

However, we are renting a small home that is more suited for low-budget college students than it is for two professionals in our late–30’s who spend a lot of time working at home. With the hot summers (no air conditioner), cold winters (modestly functional heating), an unfenced yard (Duke isn’t happy with that) and proximity to a loud and busy street, our home hasn’t been the happiest of places for us.

The good news is, this is an easy thing to change! 2017 will most likely see us either purchase a modest fixer-upper home or rent a slightly nicer one.

Learning

Personal environment makes a huge impact on overall life satisfaction for me.

I don’t care for fancy things or locations. However, I do deeply value spaces that are quiet, properly ventilated, with open space and room play (for myself and Duke!). Some of my happiest times were the months we spent living out of a tent or camper van while traveling all over the world in 2014.

I’ll be making sure that my home is the space I need from here on out.

6) Fun

We had a lot of travel and fun this year.

This summer I was either camping or heading somewhere for an epic trail run or Nordic ski every weekend. With my redesigned lifestyle over the past few years, fun times haven’t been hard to come by!

We’ve also made more new friends, and built deeper relationships with those we met last year. We are now to the point where don’t feel like strangers in Colorado. We’ve hosted many people at our house for dinner and had friends and family visit a few times. I was telling Alison that we would know if we have a solid-enough group of friends formed here if we threw a party and people actually showed up. That won’t be a problem now!

Learning

Ironically, having fun takes work (at first!).

You would think that fun things would happen on their own. This just isn’t the case for me. Some weekends I’ve felt like sitting at home and relaxing. It’s too easy to feel comfortable at home and not want to move. This is all well and good, but when I motivate myself to get outside and do something interesting, I have much more fun than I would have at home.

7) Contribution

I made a few monetary donations (modest ones) and volunteered at the Silverheels 100 for a weekend. Aside from that, I was hoping to get more actively involved with a local charity in 2016.

Instead of just donating money as I have previously in my career, I decided at the start of 2016 to invest my brainpower (and physical labor!) into helping a local cause succeed. However, I never made it happen. This area of my wheel of life saw the least progress of all. I’m not upset about it, realizing that some years I need to focus on building my roots and helping myself, even if it means helping others less. However, I also know that long term this trend has to shift!

Learning

Wow, time flies. I need to schedule activities for this part of my life just like I do other areas. I thought I’d be doing a lot more direct volunteering than I did. The time just ticked by and it didn’t happen. 2017 will be different.

Conclusion

There you have it. 2016 is almost in the books. It was a great year, full of challenges and surprises. Overall, however, I’m feeling happy and satisfied, and looking forward to continued growth in 2017!

What was the major progress you made in 2016? What lessons did you learn?

Let me know in the comments!

5 comments

  1. Arjun says:

    Awesome Ravi..so happy for both of you , to see you are living the life you want. It is very hard mentally to get away from Today’s worldly lifestyle.

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