Posted by: draknor | December 28, 2011


Ahh, the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  The perfect time of the year to wrap up loose ends, reflect on the year ending and dream about the year to come!  Of course, I’m not sure how often I’ve really done that.  Its easy to just coast along, year after year, and not take that time to reflect, to think, to plan, to dream.

2011 was a huge year for me.  2012 is going to be just as big, if not bigger.

So what happened in 2011?

– I really started paying attention to and caring about my diet & exercise & overall fitness.  Reading Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Body changed my mindset — there is no perfect diet & perfect exercise program, its all about experimentation, trying things, and figuring out what works for you.  The diet stuff he talked about with carbs led me to Gary Taubes’ giant tome Good Calorie, Bad Calorie (and the more mainstream version, Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It).

– Because of all of this research I had done, I started keeping diet logs (first in spreadsheets then via to really observe what I was eating, not just “what” but especially “how much”.  This, by itself, started to change my diet almost subconsciously!  The two big conscious changes I made were to not be afraid of meats & fats, and growing wary of eating too many carbohydrates.

– I started exercising regularly, for the first time in years.  And its lasted the entire year — I had 134 logged workout sessions at the gym before the end of November!  That’s an average of 12 workouts a month, or 3x/week. And that doesn’t include the handful of training runs or biking that I did outdoors in the summer. (And yes, I’m keeping it up in December!)

– I also ran 3 long-distance runs this year, including 2 marathons in October!  I ran the 20 mile Syttende Mai Run in May with a personal best time of 3:28:09 (my 2006 time was 3:43:45).   I completed the Twin Cities Marathon with a personal best time of 4:22:06 (my last marathon had been 2007 with a time of 4:41:26).  And then 4 weeks later I ran the Haunted Hustle Marathon side-by-side with my ex, who was the 5:30:00 pace-setter.

– I took advantage of the personal training sessions I had pre-purchased back in 2009 to work with a trainer to learn proper form for standard weight-lifts like the squat, overhead press, deadlift, bench press, etc.  The weight room had always intimidated me but a lot of my research was suggesting free weights were hands-down the best tool for developing strength.  Interest in weight-lifting lead me to the Stronglifts 5×5 program, which I started in September and I’m still following today.

But health & fitness weren’t the only big areas of change for me this year.  Professionally I went through some major changes:

– At work, I had changed roles last fall hoping to revitalize my energy for work.  Turns out, after some brief excitement while I was charging up the learning curve, it was just more of the same. I liked my job; my new role was definitely less stressful than my previous role, but I wasn’t really passionate anymore. No fire.

– I took a leap of faith and invested in Ramit Sethi’s Earn1k program.  It was expensive, and I was scared — not because I was afraid of being ripped off, but because I was afraid I would flush that money down the tube and not do anything with it.  And I was partially right — it took me awhile to start following the program.  But between the material in Earn1k, re-reading Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week, and finding great motivation in the success stories posted on Tim Ferriss’s lifestyle blog, all this combined to start generating confidence in myself and my ability to succeed outside of corporate America. Hey, all these other smart guys were doing it — I could probably do it too!

– Some friends & I took a nice relaxing winter vacation to Roatan where we spent a fantastic week lounging in a luxurious beach house, swimming, snorkeling, zip-lining, scuba-diving, and just generally enjoying life.  That, too, encouraged me that there was more to life than my 9-5 existence.

– I remember the tipping point was thinking “What am I waiting for?”  Not as a hypothetical question, but literally — if I keep working, what was my goal?  I had a decent retirement account started, some savings & investments in the bank, all my loans were paid off and I was sharing living expenses with my girlfriend who was now working full-time.  Literally, what else could I be waiting for?  And on top of all of that, I knew I had a couple of safety nets in that I could always come back to work at my company, or network with previous coworkers & find consulting work (after a 12-month non-compete agreement expired).  Not my first choices, but definitely lucrative safety-nets.

– So I ran the numbers and made my decision to leave on July 1.  We hosted a big 4th of July party and called it the “Independence Dave Party”.   And then I started this blog as a chronicle of my journey since then!

Personally I discovered a lot of new things as well….

– In Roatan I went scuba-diving for the first time, which was a blast for me!

– I purchased my first digital SLR camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. And promptly got addicted to buying new camera lenses!

– I purchased my first Apple product — the 2011 MacBook Pro 13″. I’m not fanatical, but I do love it. (I still use Windows 7 on my home PCs though)

– With my “summer vacation” (after leaving my job on July 1), I took time to do things that I just hadn’t allowed myself to do — sleep in, read, write, bike, hang out in coffee shops.  Play with the new toys I just mentioned.  (Interestingly enough, I didn’t watch much TV or play many video games — but I’m doing more of that as the winter comes on…)

– After numerous, random fights with my girlfriend I discovered I have hypothyroidism, which I am now taking medication for.  It’s made a big difference in my emotional stability!

– I went to therapy for awhile to help work out some anxiety I was having about all of the life changes I was going through.  Between that & getting my thyroid under control, life began to feel much more stable again.

– With numerous friends & family beginning to have children, the thought of being a parent myself is no longer quite so scary!  And my girlfriend agrees — we’re excited about the idea of one day being parents. Together. So that’s pretty encouraging 🙂

– Decided I needed a bigger social circle so I spent a fair amount of time this summer/fall just getting out to meet people.  Hosted a dinner party (which I hope to turn into an ongoing thing) and started periodic board game nights and online video game nights with some of my friends as a way to keep connected, keep social, and find ways to just relax & have fun.

And finally, taking my career in a completely new direction…

– After chatting with another amateur photographer, I decided to start a photography business focused on real estate instead of portraits & weddings. I worked with a local real estate agent to build a portfolio, set up my business and launched my website: David Phoenix Photography. I worked with another freelancer I had met through Ramit Sethi — Andrea Arnold of Visualized Info — to come up with a logo.

– I attended a special Karatedo Doshinkan training in Oregon, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, where I was promoted to 2.dan (2nd degree black belt). Not only that, but I asked for — and was granted — permission to begin leading classes!  So I’ve been working with local fitness studio melt to run some trial demo classes and will start a regular beginner’s class in 2012.

– I’ve decided that with my personal experiences and love of writing, there are stories out there for me to write.  I’ve started drafts of two different books (and have ideas for a third) that I plan to self-publish on Amazon in 2012.

– Finally, I’m intrigued by the ideas of passive income and internet marketing, so I’m starting to research those to see if there are opportunities for me there to make money to cover my living expenses, and keep my time free for the pursuits that really excite me.

Wow — it’s been quite a year! A lot of change already, and in most ways the changes are just getting started.  But I think my “looking forward” part will have to come in a separate blog post, this is already too long 🙂



  1. Thanks for sharing this update! It’s always interesting to hear about what you’re doing. Good luck with all the new and interesting things you’ve got underway for 2012!