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5 Steps to Self Improvement


We all want to live longer, accomplish more, feel better, look better and connect with other human beings. Some of us are trying to find purpose in our lives. We don’t start out with a master plan and we don’t have a blueprint laid out for us. The question is, what steps do we take to begin to optimize our lives, find purpose and become an asset to those around us. One thing about finding purpose is that you can’t find it if you don’t get out of your comfort zone and experience. Life can get overwhelming and feel like we don’t have the time or the ability to make a change that will shift our trajectory into the right direction, but I have a list of 5 ways that we can improve our now and our future.


Befriend wise elders:

There are a multitude of reasons to befriend and spend time with elders, because it’s mutually beneficial to the younger person soaking up the knowledge and to the older person receiving the youthful energy.

By listening and learning from people who have more life experience, you can prevent yourself from making a lot of unnecessary mistakes as well as learning fast track strategies to accomplish your goals.. Some people in life don’t learn, some people learn from their own mistakes, but the most efficient way of learning is to learn from others.

Over the years, I've been privileged to have access to wise elders who have given me game from their successes or their failures. First and foremost would be my father, who has taught me a multitude of lessons growing up and as an adult. Lessons a boy learns from his father are life changing and can be life saving. But in order to be a free thinker and a more well rounded individual, we need to expand past the lessons learned from our parents and be open to learning from elders at our jobs, our coaches, places that we frequent or seek out mentors in fields that we want to enter.

The first step is being open to receiving the knowledge. It may not seem as exciting to sit around and talk to people who are twenty to fifty years older than you are, but some of the more meaningful and insightful conversations you will have in life will be with people who fall in this age bracket. In my own personal experience, I would say that there have been a couple key elders who I’ve had an open ear to, that really changed my perspective on life.

One an older coworker who I worked with from the ages of 23 to 30. He gravitated towards the youth and always was willing to give his take on life to whoever would listen. He would tell you about his highs in life making money, experiences, travel and he would also warn you about his low points in life and detail the mistakes that brought him to those lows. I soaked up a lot of knowledge from this coworker and remain in contact till this day. Probably the biggest words of encouragement I received from him was to take chances in life and go for what I want to achieve.

Since, moving to Hawaii, calisthenics has been a huge part of my life and a good chunk of my time is spent at the calisthenics parks. Just like at any gym or place of commune, there are always going to be regulars who meet at certain times of the day. My time slot for the calisthenics park pre covid was 7:30am to 9:30am. Although the park was pretty empty, there would always be 4-5 people working out throughout that time period. People coming and going. I befriended a group of older guys, some in their 50’s and some in their 80’s. I soaked up as much game as possible, especially from the guys in their 80’s. Learned about their lives, what they did that brought them to Hawaii, how they stayed so healthy over the years, their diet, their workouts. Common theme was simplicity. They all are routine oriented and stick to the script.

Recently I bumped into the eldest of the crew while working out, he wanted to talk sports with me, which we did for a few minutes, but it quickly turned into him giving me the play by play on how he built his wealth. His investment strategies, his rules on credit and how he is still investing well into his old age. I would like to be in the same mindset as I get into my old age. Always moving forward.


Develop a Skill Set:

Developing a skillset is investing in yourself. It could be a trade (Plumber, electrician, concrete inspector...etc), a language, certification or just putting time into mastering a hobby and turning it into a potential business. Most skill sets will cost you money and time to develop. You might need to get a degree, take courses, or purchase books or programs to learn from people who have already mastered the skill you are learning.

Sacrifice is a key ingredient in developing a skill set. Most of us have a busy schedule. Most of us are working, some of us even multiple jobs or overtime. Some of us have kids to take care of, or other time consuming responsibilities that makes free time a precious commodity. The skill set that you develop can be the key to creating more free time to spend on what you love, vs giving it to a job that you might not particularly like.

I’m sure all of us are familiar with the term 9 to 5, but we need to familiarize ourselves with the term 5 to 9. Our 5 to 9 is our shift after our work shift. The shift we spend on self development, creating, learning and setting ourselves up for that new career path, the business we envision ourselves starting or even that language that we are mastering in order to move to a new destination.

Self development or creating a new skill set does not always have to be linked to monetization. It can be a skillset that developed in order to live a healthier or fuller life. Learning and developing a fitness and health routine is an added skill that pays off in longevity and quality of life, not money. Meditation, budgeting, working on our listening skills are a few other examples of skills we can develop to improve our quality of life.

Whatever the skill, whatever the reason for wanting to acquire the skill it is crucial that we put the time, money and effort into developing the skill set at hand.


Investments:

Investments come in many forms, investing in yourself to develop a skill set, investing in equipment to start a business or traditional investments like investing into the stock market. All of those are legitimate investments, but I’d like to focus on financial investments, specifically into the stock market or crypto currency.

I started investing in my late twenties, when a co-worker/friend informed me about opportunities to create some revenue with my spare money. I hit on a couple stocks that I was recommended to invest in, but didn’t understand what I was doing. I invested in some riskier stocks after my initial success and didn’t have any luck. It turned me off from the stock market until I read some literature about index funds and long term stock plays. After learning more I started investing in index funds with my spare change, while also getting more serious about my 401k and IRA. Now I’m in my mid thirties and view investments as a mandatory practice. Our spare money should always be making money for us, not sitting in a bank losing value due to inflation.

In around March of 2017 a younger friend of mine told me about Bitcoin. At first glance it didn't seem legit. It looked like the initial pump was finished. I was viewing it as a stock and the then 1000$ price tag seemed to be too high of a risk. Now I look back on that price and wish I would have bought and hodld as much Bitcoin as I could get my hands on. I would have been a millionaire already.

Fast Forward six months and bitcoin was trading around 8,000$ and my friend revisited me with the idea of investing in not only Bitcoin, but altcoins, which are smaller coins that have more volatile movement. Bigger risk and bigger reward. I had some extra money to play around with at the time, so I decided to give Bitcoin and altcoins a chance.

At this time, I was still no investment expert, just putting a little change into index funds on my robinhood app along with making my contributions to my retirement accounts through my employer. I had no idea what I was doing in the crypto space and off dumb luck and getting involved in crypto in the middle of a historic bullrun, within a few months my crypto account was up 1000% and I was sitting on about 40,000$ worth of crypto assets.

I told a few friends about this and told my father and their initial reaction was for me to take the money out now while I was up. I wish I would have listened. Instead I was adamant that the gains wouldn’t stop. I was oblivious of the 2 year bear market looming. I held on to all my crypto assets, not selling any of them, while slowly accumulating more as the prices dropped until I was in the red on my initial investments. I chalked up my crypto investments as a loss, but did not take any money out of my wallets or off of the trading platforms I had them stored on.

Eventually the tides turned and we are back in a bull run and I am back in the green on my investments and am still investing till this day. The biggest lesson I learned about crypto currency and investments in general is that you can’t time the market. Investing slow, steady and what you can afford to lose is my approach going forward, while taking a little cream off of the top from time to time.

Investing is something that I highly recommend to any young person looking to build their wealth, but investing with a sound strategy is even more important then just investing. When I started investing in cryptocurrency I was investing off pure emotion and my lack of knowledge taught me an important lesson that I am using going forward. Don’t gamble, invest.


Learn a language:

This could be lumped into the develop a skill set category, but I wanted to specifically address this because part of my brand centered around traveling. Specifically internationally. I’ve been to around 30 countries and 5 continents and the best way to get in tune with the culture is through communicating with people.

Every country that I have solo traveled to my first priority is to meet someone who can show me the ropes and teach me the culture. Of course for me this was a great way to meet some beautiful women along my travels and develop some good friendships as well. From Japan, to Taiwan to Brazil to Germany, I have met plenty of dope people. Locals and Expats. Expats can share their experiences as an outsider in a foreign land, while the locals can teach you the true culture, share awesome food and potentially be language exchange partners.

I spent about 3 years going back and forth to Japan, running an Air BnB business, while living about 65% of my time in Japan and 35% of my time in the states or traveling to other countries in Asia. It was an extremely important time in my life and truly taught me how to fend for myself out of my comfort zone, across the world around people who were not friends and family I grew up around. Another huge area of discomfort was not knowing the language.

This was something that I struggled with, but vowed to get proficient at. I spent a lot of my spare time at cafes, downtime while working or quiet time with flashcards teaching myself Japanese words. My vocabulary picked up, but my understanding of the language didn’t. Japanese has a completely different structure than english when it comes to grammar and putting sentences together. I had to get some sort of schooling.

I’d say about midway into my time in Japan I started taking courses at the Osaka city Language Center where I learned the fundamentals of Japanese with a class full of foreigners from around the globe. It was a great experience and helped me get to a somewhat conversational level with my Japanese. From that point I could communicate much better with non english speakers, even though was not on a deep level. It got the job done and in a way helped me understand the Japanese Culture more and gave me more independence during my time in Japan. I didn’t always need a Japanese girlfriend or friend who was fluent to translate for me.

Going forward if I was to move to another country I would spend more time prepping for that experience. The main way to prep is to get proficient in communicating. Taking a language course at your local community college, or taking an online course can save you a lot of headaches and open up a lot more opportunities once you have arrived in your new destination.

Of course it's not realistic to get fluent in the language of every country you visit, but learning key phrases can help you out big time if you're ever in a bind. My go to phrases are always “Excuse me”, “How do I get to”, “How much is” and of course “What is your phone number” for the women haha.

Language skill can also help you out on your home turf as well when it comes to salary increases or if you ever need to return the favor and help some non english speaking foreigners while they are in America or your english speaking home country.


Get in shape:

I saved this self improvement tactic for last because this one is such a huge part of my life and a huge aspect of my personal growth journey. Health and fitness are a huge component of self care and self care is self love. Incorporating the proper diet and fitness regiment into my life has had a plethora of benefits. It has brought a passion of movement in calisthenics and plyometrics, improved my confidence, giving me a better quality of life, improved health and allowed me to reshape my inner circle of friends according to my new lifestyle.

Our friends are typically a reflection of who we are. Often sharing the same hobbies and habits. Our habits shape our character and if your hobbies and habits are unhealthy, that could say something about your character as well.

I have always been someone who has been active and athletic throughout my life and always stayed in fairly decent shape. That all came to a pause when I broke my ankle shortly after my 30th birthday. Although looks wise I was in good shape, I was in poor health due to my diet and excessive drinking. After about 6 months of a sedentary lifestyle and a few months in a walking boot or cast I had gotten into all time high territory in weight and was at my most unhealthy state in my life.

This is where my unhealthy lifestyle revealed itself. Before my ankle break, I looked fit and healthy, but my workout routine was masking the lifestyle I was living. No diet restrictions, drinking daily, poor sleep habits and a ton of stress. Without working out I gained weight, looked older and my immune system was down. I was having trouble breathing, anxiety and got very sick a few times within the next year.

I knew it was time to change, but I really didn’t know how, because my life was centered around hanging out with friends that drank everyday after work, partying on the weekend and working my ass off during the daytime. I was living in Japan at the time where the food and drinking culture is insane. It is a great time, but it’s great in moderation. I was going off the hinges with the good times.

Within the next year I had moved back to the states fulltime and started focusing more on getting back into shape. I was working out everyday, intermittent fasting and started to concentrate on gaining more relative strength (Strength controlling my own bodyweight). Training calisthenics was a new challenge for me that I needed at the time, because it allowed me to focus on hitting micro goals while working towards larger workout goals. In calisthenics, these are called progressions. In order to be able to do an exercise like a muscle up or a handstand, you have to start with easier progressions and keep working your way through the progressive movements before you can safely attempt and do the advanced movement.

I began to get obsessed with calisthenics and getting my body healthier and in the best shape possible. Once I hit my first muscle up it was on. I had seen people do muscle ups over the years from time to time, but never knew what the name of the movement was. I always wanted to be able to get over the top of the bar. Once I did that, I felt like the sky was the limit with my calisthenics training. Eventually I mastered handstands, did human flags, back levers and other advanced calisthenics exercises.

Not only did I get the satisfaction of performance, but my body had transformed into something I had never seen from myself before. I was shredded and gained a substantial amount of muscle mass. I always had an athletic build growing up from playing sports. I even earned an athletic scholarship to play college hoops, but I never really had the shredded 6 pack look. This was the first time in my life I looked like this. I didn’t even know it was possible.

The combination of performance, looks and health increased my confidence tremendously. I had created a skill set for myself to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. People I have known for years were telling me I looked younger and couldn’t believe the transformation.

Being in shape creates confidence, enforces discipline, gives you more options in the dating market and also inspires others to make a similar change. Of course with me not drinking and partying on a regular basis caused me to create some distance from a lot of friends, but it also led me to some great and more fulfilling friendships with like minded individuals. It also inspired some of my old friends to change their lifestyles a bit.

Getting in shape is not something you do for a vacation, or wedding photos, but it's something you do to create a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Calisthenics and intermittent fasting is my lifestyle for the long haul. It feels second nature at this point.


Check out my youtube video on this topic




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