2016 in Review: Goals, Books Read

2016 in Review

Relationships

I set a goal to do something interesting with my girlfriend once a month. It was hit on most occasions. The condition I put in place to achieve the goal was a monthly google calendar email alert. I love gcal. It’s great for these types of cyclical goals. Groupon has been an awesome resource for finding super interesting and reasonably priced activities. Most notably we recently attended a glass blowing class, which was a lot of fun! It’s great way to have a novel experience and potentially find a new hobby.

I had another goal to meet up with a friend at least once a month. Low bar, right? Maybe its a symptom of being old, maybe from taking on too much other shit, but I’ve felt like my time was continually regimented and restricted this year. Spending 2.5 hours commuting everyday certainly has not helped this cause. I made a good attempt at meeting this goal, but sometimes fell short due to not following up with initial contacts for planning a meetup.

Finance

I came super close to hitting my financial goals for having $xxx in liquid assets. I had a few shitty trades (option trading) at the end of the year due to improper risk management that really hurt my both account and my trading confidence. I’m still chipping away, but it has been a harsh lesson in risk management and how tail risk can eventually get you. I’m trying to write it off as part of building my skill base for trading as I’ve started experimenting with more complex instruments such as Iron Condors and Butterflys.

Writing

I set a goal to write 1,500 words every time I write (M-Sat, Sunday off), which I’m pleased to report I hit on most days. Times where the bar was not hit was typically due to extenuating circumstances. I thought 1,500 would be far more painful that it turned out to be, but once again I’m surprised by how well the “formal process” of goal setting works. There really is something magical about writing a goal down. I believe the act of writing it crystallizes the intention in some part of your unconscious mind that keeps you driving for its success.

Book sales have been frustrating at best. Perhaps my expectations are too high. I am a long way from being able to write full time. Something needs to change. I have some ideas I’m going to try in an attempt to put this business back on course for freedom.

Fitness

I started training BJJ in January of 2016 and have fallen in love with the sport/martial art. It has been a refreshing break from weightlifting. I was hoping it would be a little easier on the body than weightlifting, but it’s significantly harder. I’ve dislocated my shoulder multiple times and it seems like some joint is chronically sore. Despite that, I wouldn’t stop going unless my body totally failed. What I love most about it is the difficulty. It’s very cognitively engaging and I think as a beginner requires a lot of focus to determine how to put your body into new positions and movements.

There is also the aspect of training with a community that hits the social piece that I think a lot of us have lost in our electronic screen-filled lives. While Working in IT I spend most of the day with my headphones on trying to block out the distracting chatter of the office, spending most of my time with my monitors. I think an important part of being a human is having daily social connections with a group.

Reading

The goal I’m most excited about hitting this year was finally cracking the elusive 100 books read mark. I managed to wrangle 107.  For full transparency the vast majority of the books I “read” were actually audio books, however I can read far faster than I can listen. It was a way to leverage my abysmal commute. Below are my top picks for the year and all of my books read:

Top 3 Books of 2016

1. 

Ego is the Enemy was my most gifted book of 2016. Do yourself a huge favor by buying and reading this book. Some of my notes:

You have to be careful you don’t let ego get the best of you, especially after time of success. Nurturing the ego is a form of death. Robert Greene, refers to this as “dead time.” “There are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second.” To be entrapped in our ego, is to recoil from the world around us, to retreat into solipsism, and to chain ourselves to “dead time.” Ego can ruin aspiration and success, and how it can get in the way of learning from failure

Seneca: “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man.”

Epictetus: “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows”

Bill Bradley: “When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win”

Harold Geneen: “People learn from their failures. Seldom do they learn anything from success”

2.  

The Lessons of History is short and jam packed with gems. This book is fucking brilliant, buy it. Read it.

Some of my favorite passages:

“Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way.”

“…But a tornado can ruin in an hour the city that took a century to build; an iceberg can overturn or bisect the floating palace and send a thousand merrymakers gurgling to the Great Certainty. Let rain become too rare, and civilization disappears under sand, as in Central Asia; let it fall too furiously, and civilization will be choked with jungle, as in Central America. Let the thermal average rise by twenty degrees in our thriving zones, and we should probably relapse into lethargic savagery. In a semitropical climate a nation of half a billion souls may breed like ants, but enervating heat may subject it to repeated conquest by warriors from more stimulating habitats. Generations of men establish a growing mastery over the earth, but they are destined to become fossils in its soil…”

“…The startled animals scurry away at our coming; the birds scatter; the fish disperse in the brook. Suddenly we perceive to what a perilous minority we belong on this impartial planet, and for a moment we feel, as these varied denizens clearly do, that we are passing interlopers in their natural habitat. Then all the chronicles and achievements of man fall humbly into the history and perspective of polymorphous life; all our economic competition, our strife for mates, our hunger and love and grief and war, are akin to the seeking, mating, striving, and suffering that hide under these fallen trees or leaves, or in the waters, or on the boughs.”

“…So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life— peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food. Animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law.

 

3. 

If you’re a human and you sit for a significant part of your day, you need to read Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World

Some of my favorite passages:

“Some experts argue that sitting is even more pernicious than smoking. An Australian study conducted in 2008 reports that every hour of television watched after age 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by 11 minutes. Dr. Levine claims that for every hour we sit, we lose two hours of life.6 The typical seated office worker has more musculoskeletal injuries than any other industry sector worker, including construction, metal industry, and transportation workers. One researcher’s conclusion: sitting is as much an occupational risk as lifting heavy weights on the job.”

“When we sit for long periods, the muscles in our lower bodies literally turn off and become inactive. Simultaneously, we automatically adopt positions that don’t utilize the critical muscles and connective tissues that stabilize and support our trunk and spine.”

“…the actual cause of pain or sickness can be very elusive, and assigning blame can be difficult. If a beaver chews away at a tree for nine days straight and then a mild breeze knocks the tree over, what caused that tree to fall? Sure, the wind finished the job, but without the beaver’s long hours of arduous work, the tree would have been just fine. When it comes to many modern ailments, our sedentary lifestyle is the hardworking beaver that weakens our bodies and primes us for pain and disease. It’s time we stand up to our sitting world.”

Runner Up

I really wasn’t expecting much new from The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, but it was surprisingly filled with a lot of stuff I didn’t know about food science. This book goes DEEP on the food industry’s vile practices they use to get you to consume their shit.

2016 Reading List

Firefight (The Reckoners) – Brandon Sanderson
She Sat He Stood: What Do Your Characters Do While They Talk? – Ginger Hanson
The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed – Mark Divine
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Half the World (Shattered Sea Book 2) – Joe Abercrombie
Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude – Mark Douglas
Stealing the Corner Office: The Winning Career Strategies They’ll Never Teach You in Business School – Brendan Reid
Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement – Katy Bowman
Half a War (Shattered Sea Book 3) – Joe Abercrombie
The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath – Ben S. Bernanke
The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning – Marcelo Gleiser
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull
Stock Options Trading Strategies: 3-Digit Return Opportunities On Large Monthly Amplitude Cycles – Julian Sebastian, Juris Doctorate
The Lessons of History – Will Durant, Ariel Durant
Power vs. Force – David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
How to Develop Story Tension: 13 Techniques Plus the Five Minute Magic Trick Guaranteed to Keep Your Readers Turning Pages – Amy Deardon
The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships – Neil Strauss
Blood Song (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life – Joe De Sena
Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing – Melissa Mohr
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
Market Wizards, Updated: Interviews With Top Traders – Jack D. Schwager
#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness – Gary Vaynerchuk
Third Circle Theory: Purpose Through Observation – Pejman Ghadimi
The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist – Brett N. Steenbarger
Get Rich with Options: Four Winning Strategies Straight from the Exchange Floor – Lee Lowell
Kissinger: A Biography – Walter Isaacson
400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman – Adam Plantinga
Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law – Joe Abercrombie
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal – Tom Shroder
Lying – Sam Harris
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma – Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job – Jon Acuff
Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman – Richard P. Feynman
Getting Started in Options – Michael C. Thomsett
Why Isn’t My Brain Working?: A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health – Dr. Datis Kharrazian
Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror – Michael Weiss, Hassan Hassan
The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable – James Owen Weatherall
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It – Kelly McGonigal
Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction – Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner
Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade – Adam Minter
Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum – Gavin Francis
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime – Val McDermid
$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America – Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM) (Volume 5) – Hal Elrod
Men Explain Things To Me – Rebecca Solnit
The Prince – Niccolò Machiavelli
The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Tower Lord (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us – Michael Moss
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders – Vincent Bugliosi
My Antonia – Willa Cather
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World – Andrea Wulf
You’re It!: On Hiding, Seeking, and Being Found – Alan Watts
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – Ken Robinson
The Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis
Queen of Fire (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It – Scott Patterson
The Great Courses: The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries – Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives – Leonard Mlodinow
Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground – Kevin Poulsen
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months – Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D.
Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ – Giulia Enders
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It – Kamal Ravikant
The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game – Sam Sheridan
Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success – Napoleon Hill
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
I Can See Clearly Now – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future – Martin Ford
The Road to Character – David Brooks
A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing – Burton G. Malkiel
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol Dweck
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism – Jeremy Rifkin
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome – Susan Wise Bauer
The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage – Daymond John
Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival – John Vaillant
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – Cheryl Strayed
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass series Book 1) – Sarah J. Maas
Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff – Jim Johnson
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? – Frans de Waal
Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World – Kelly Starrett
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – Brené Brown
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor – Mark Schatzker
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain – John J. Ratey
Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes
Where Are the Customers’ Yachts?: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street – Fred Schwed
Fear and Trembling – Soren Kierkegaard
The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection – Michael Ruhlman

 

See my 2015 in Review below:

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