2022 Yearly Review: Losing to Win

“The only real test of intelligence is if you get what you want out of life.” – Naval Ravikant

Every year I try to track my life through monthly themes.

The process is relatively simple – I pick two weaknesses that I feel like need to work on and I give those two themes a little more attention each month.

At the beginning and end of the month, I write down my thoughts on the process.

I started doing this halfway through 2019.

I did it completely in 2020.

I missed a few months in 2021.

I only managed to do two months in 2022.

Funny enough, I felt as if I ruined my yearly tradition by not reflecting…but that is something I felt last year as well. This is a pattern I fall into. I noticed this when I wrote the following passage:

A painful anxiety throughout the year was knowing that I was going through my days, my most valuable days, with very little reflection. Perhaps I practiced reflection more than the average person I interacted with, but no where near enough that myself or my family deserved. I knew that I would have to write a yearly reflection, but I did not have my themes. I felt like since I was not keeping up with my old structure, I had lost the ability to reflect upon the year. How silly. But such a real struggle for me.

The most useful part of reflection is noticing these patterns in me that are clearly delusional and self destructive. So I recognize the pattern and move forward. Keeping with the reflecting as much as I can with the intention to extract value where I can.

This year I lost heavily. I had to let go of many things in order to win in the ways that actually mattered.

This year felt like I was in The Monkey Trap.

I felt like the monkey who won’t let go of the banana even if it means freeing themselves from a trap.

I was caught up in holding on to my goals and beliefs so tightly that I was stuck in a trap of my own creation.

I’m grateful to say that I have learned the value of letting go of my previous desires to obtain the freedom to pursue new ones.

This year I didn’t blog, make music, content, exercise, build business, play video games nearly as much as I wanted to, but I was able to do something more.

I was able to be a father and a pillar in my community. Both of which require more than I believed I could provide.

I was upset when I saw my streaks dying, month after month of not creating, not dedicating my time to myself – but then I would have moments when I’m with my daughter and I can see her getting older and growing before my eyes.

I realized that those moments are the most valuable and no matter what I was pursuing. Any earthly goal that I could conceive would be just to reach these moments that I already have.

I felt guilt because I have not accrued mass wealth, but that would have just been to spend time with my children anyway.

So this post will be a way for me to reflect upon another just as eventful and meaningful year.

All journal entries are in italics and my comments from today follow CM:

January – Vision & Patience

Beginning of the Month:

I’m trying to reflect, but it’s hard to find time. Any time that I do have to myself is usually when I am extremely tired. I’m still “cursed” with my need to be productive, so I’ve been keeping any progress I make in my head. For example, I only had a few minutes to write this reflect so I did the majority of the “reflecting” while I was desperately trying to stay awake feeding my daughter. After all, most of writing is thinking. But that got me realizing, that I do not necessarily need to have dedicated time to work on a project, I just need to dedicate my thoughts to it. That is what I’m trying to practice with vision. I want to be better able to tap into my ability to create and sustain a vision. Perhaps this will be able to give me the progress I so desperately crave. As for patience, this is a common theme for me. I want everything done yesterday, I don’t know why. I want all my business ideas and creative projects to be finished. If I work on patience, I will find what I’m looking for. At least, that’s the plan. Last year, being patient was exactly what I needed to be. Despite patience being a frequent compliment that I receive, I don’t feel like I am a patient person at all.

CM: This was an omen for how the year was going to go. I definitely not not find the time to reflect for a large portion of this year and I felt it weighing on me every day. Interesting how many of the thoughts I had then are similar to the thoughts I have now. Perhaps lack of reflection keeps us stick in the same loops, until we realize our way out of them.

End of the Month:

It’s hard doing these themes without having the themes in my face on a regular basis. Usually, I would have the themes written on a whiteboard in my room so I could see them, but just holding them in Notion isn’t the business. I didn’t check my themes for the entire month and tbh I forgot about them. However, taking the time to think about the last month and how I’ve worked on my vision and patience has shown me that I haven’t fell off the path completely. I’d like to think I’m improving when it comes to my patience. When I’m at work, I’m more patient with my students and with myself too. Sometimes I trip, but I like to think I’m getting a little better. When it comes to vision, I think it’s interesting that I chose it because I had a hard time maintaining the bigger picture this last month. It’s like I knew that I was going to be caught up in the rise and grind of being a teacher intern while getting my masters while doing the EdTPAs. It’s been tough, but every now and again I remember the vision and I keep chugging a lot….because what else can I do. It’s okay to feel the way I’ve been as long as I remember that it is all in service to something greater.

CM: Oh, I’ve been done with my Master’s degree for a while and I forgot how bad the grind was. This was a tough time. Every minute had to be planned and executed perfectly or the “house of cards” would fall. I’m so happy to be past that now. I was hyper aware of my streaks and reflection habits dying. It’s a shame that it got the best of me. EdTPAs were trash and a half.

February – Resilience & Gratitude

Beginning of the Month:

This month I need to work on my resilience and gratitude. Manly because the thought of improving either seems sickening. Resilience because I’m entering an extremely tough portion of my program: I’m working on the EdTPAs, while teaching, while working on my masters, while being a relatively new father. Plus, it’s not like I’m just trying to do all of these things in a half assed sort of way, I’m trying to be bomb at all of these. (Maybe except the EdTPAs). As for gratitude, even thought I practice it every morning, it’s been tough to be grateful for my circumstances. I’m sure I need a perspective shift, but I also feel like that doesn’t take away from the burden and rigor of what I am going through. Nonetheless, I’m going to work on my gratitude and hope my misery lessens. Maybe this is all just what it’s like to be a student again. I feel like I’ve been in grad school long enough to lose sight of the “fun” to role-play a student and battle test my ideas. I’ve been able to learn a lot, but it’s also taking a toll on me physically and mentally.

CM: Definitely true. What is funny about this post is I had a few people ask how to better practice gratitude throughout the year. LOL.

End of the Month:

nothing written

CM: This was when I clearly hit my breaking point. I stopped pretty much everything that I believed was worth doing. I was able to do some things over the year, but February was when it primarily stopped. I guess I did improve both of these themes now that I am reflecting on them in December. Even though I may pay attention to my growth and development more than the average person, I did not feel as if it was enough for me to have net growth over the year in these specific domains.

Since years are much longer than 2 months and I had quiet a bit happen this year that I want to reflect on a few key moments that stick out when I think back on what influenced me most this year.

This year I had an event that distinctly marked my transformation from my role in my childhood family to father of my primary family.

It was painful, but necessary. The loss of one life, to gain a new and better life. Since this is a public post, I am not going to go in detail. However, it was extremely important for me to go through this time. It showed me the importance of a boy accepting his responsibility to protect, provide, and become a valuable man.

It was also an experience to live out the wisdom that I have recently learned. The specific story escapes me, but the archetypical biblical story of moving out of tyranny to get to the promise land is as real as can be. After escaping tyranny, one would expect to get to the promise land, but that isn’t the case. You end up in a desert. Upon faith and perseverance, you can find a path through the hostile and barren land into the promise land where you can enjoy everything you have prayed for in your darkest times.

As unlikely as that story seems true…it is. It was the narrative that got me through the desert and into my promise land.

In the desert, I effectively was separated from my daughter, fell into homelessness, all while still working on my degree.

These were some of the darkest and challenging times of my life. Unfortunately, that itself is an extremely loaded statement. I compromised on many of my values and had to act counterintuitive to my intentions in order to move out of this space. I had to let go of my previous beliefs in order to move forward. The Monkey Trap again.

Fortunately, we were able to find and rent an apartment to give us stable shelter until we were able to enter the relatively highly guarded world of homeownership. (This was not something I knew was going to happen until mid December) This was not by accident. The timing was remarkable, but it was also after years of preparing for this.

After this dark time, I was reunited with my daughter.

Never again will I be involuntarily separated from her. Since she was so young, when she saw me again, I could tell I was a stranger to her. That was a heartbreaking experiencing. Thankfully now, she sees me as her secondary caregiver and trusts me to protect her when surrounded by unknowns. The pain parents feel when they want to be with their children but cannot is excruciating. I cannot imagine losing a child permanently.

On a lighter note, I was able to go on my first work sponsored strip to San Diego to be trained as an AVID teacher.

This was super cool to see teachers developing themselves to be the best educators they can be. Most were like this, some where there because their school mandated them to be. During the training sessions, I realized that my insights and perspectives were valuable even to the teachers who have been around the block a few time (20+ years of experience). I could even see the educators who were there because they had to enjoyed my insights. More evidence that I need to share my thoughts. Training teachers is something I am capable of doing despite my minimal of formal experience.

This was also lovely because I got to develop deeper relationships with my co-workers and take my daughter to the city where her mother and I met. Seeing her by the rooftop poolside was a sight I would have worked my whole life to see.

I finished my Master’s degree in Education.

This was no doubt extremely difficult. If I was any less of the man, or scholar, that I see myself to be, I would not have been able to complete this. This moment meant a few different things to me.

I used it as an opportunity to share my accomplishments with others to see who would be happy for me when I win. The results were surprising to say the least. The people who knew me the least were happiest for me. The people who knew me the most could not have cared less. Shocking and painful. Despite the negative emotion, I noticed that may be why I do not care to celebrate my wins.

This was starkly obvious to me when my students asked me why I don’t hang my degrees in my room. The honest answer was because I learned to not care about my accomplishments. At least, not a petty Master’s degree in Education.

Despite the other insights, this was an important step in legitimizing my claim to disseminate educational information to the public. I know I don’t need a degree for that, but my super-ego says I do and hopefully this prevents any subconscious blockages.

First escrow fail, second escrow succeeded.

Pretty much this. We were in escrow for condo which fell through. That was heartbreaking. I also see why so many people get turned off by Real Estate. It was an ugly experience for me, but I know RE Investing can be extremely lucrative if I can get the system down right. The second escrow for a bigger and better house is going through and is a much better experience than the last.

After the first deal busted, I was ready to not enter homeownership for years, if not decades more. But, we kept faith and perseverance and now we are ending this year with a stark juxtaposition for the beginning.

A new year of develop relationships with students and sinking my teeth deeper into teaching.

As a second year teacher, I was nervous when the school year started because I had to start over making connections with all the students again. I found myself missing my classes from last year because the connections made the job palatable. This year, I’m discovering 160 new relationships and it is just as meaningful, fun, and challenging as last year.

This job renews every year. It is painful, but rewarding. I still frequently get gifts and complements which is so damn gratifying I can’t put words to it.

I had the wonderful privilege of starting an Investment club on campus where I teach students principles of personal finance and investing after school. This has created a community on campus that has improved the experience of many of the students who participate.

I was able to be a judge for the science and engineering fair. As lame as it might seem to work extra duty on a Friday, I found it to be an important experience for me. I needed to witness more proof that I am clearly in a different place in society. The fact that I was called upon for my science expertise is mind blowing to me. Although that is exactly what a chemistry teacher is in society, but to see that it can stretch beyond the classroom was important for me. Especially being on a journey to prove to myself that I can adequately provide useful and valuable information.

I had my first date with Kyra after becoming parents.

I cannot express the importance of date nights for two people who are rearing children. In order to be a good parent, one must be a good partner. Spending quality time to rediscover and tend to the flames that started the fire is crucial for a stable and happy family.

Plus it was a lot of fun living like we didn’t have kids for a bit. (Funny enough, we spend most of the night talking about our daughter). We didn’t do anything crazy. We just saw a lecture from a professor. Classic Chris and Kyra entertainment.

The discovery of a lifetime – ANOTHER baby girl is on the way.

Everything from my Becoming a Parent blog post, but X2.

How beautiful it is to be blessed with another daughter. Especially when she is the result of love. I am so excited for the privilege and honor of raising up another beautiful and strong woman for this world. Lord knows we need it. I’m so excited to meet my little girl.

However, this was another Monkey Trap. I realized that I had to lose my expectation of having a son. It’s becoming unlikely that I will have another kid and I confronted the fact that I was addicted to the pride I had in my name. I had to accept that the impact I have on the world does not have to be associated with the name Mukiibi.

While this may seem trivial to many, for me it was intense and difficult to let go. I had to untangle the idea that my pride in my family name was tied up with the love I had for my father and that this pride was a large motivational force in my life. This pride was far more responsible for the majority of my accomplishments than the other qualities that I believed I had. Entertaining the idea that Pride being one of the seven deadly sins, but also the source of many of my accomplishments was difficult. Realizing it was true made me want to vomit.

It’s becoming more likely than not that the name will not carry on. Realizing this loss made room for the love that I will need to properly father my newest daughter, but also allowed me to use virtue and intention as guiding stars for my future endeavors.

Despite the challenges of the year, this has been one to remember. This year was pivotal to my life and my development as well as my family. This was the year so many of my dreams seemed within my reach. I’m excited to see what 2023 will bring.

2021 Yearly Review: Joining the Human Race

“Is it not possible (even though it may not always deliver us from the terrible situation that we find ourselves in) that we would all be more able to deal with uncertainty, the horrors of nature, the tyranny of culture, and the malevolence of ourselves and others if we were better and more courageous people?”

Jordan B. Peterson (Beyond Order)

Every year I try to track my life through monthly themes.

The process is relatively simple – I pick two weaknesses that I feel like need to work on and I give those two themes a little more attention each month.

At the beginning and end of the month, I write down my thoughts on the process.

I started doing this halfway through 2019.

I did it completely in 2020.

As much as I wanted to do an entire year, I missed two months simply because I forgot. In October, I had the wonderful privilege of welcoming my daughter into the world. (Easily, the best experience of my life.)

Unfortunately, I was already overloaded and reaching near my maximum capacity. I just started a job as a chemistry teacher in a pretty rough school and I was working on my Master’s and teaching credential at the same time.

As much as I wanted to keep up everything I was doing, the transition got the best of me and I missed two months of recording and reflecting on my themes. I ended up dropping a lot more than just recording and reflecting on my themes, but that’s for another post.

At first, I thought that because I missed the two months my entire yearly review tradition is ruined. But then I realized that I was making an excuse to relieve myself of the responsibility of admitting that I wasn’t able to achieve what I wanted, picking up the pieces, and continuing on.

So I asked myself – is there a way I can turn this loss into something beautiful?

The answer of course is yes. Dare I say that the answer to that question is always yes.

This year, I will reflect on my themes as usual, but for October and November I will reflect upon the events that created so much disarray, but much more fulfillment.

All journal entries are in italics and my comments from today follow CM:

🛠 January – Organization & Presentation

Beginning of the month: I ended last year trying to organize myself and my life so I can start this year extremely productive. Turns out that once I started to open that box, there was so much to unpack that I’m going to need another month. Organizing this way will help me stay on top of my current complexity and add more later. I also felt pretty guilty about spending so much time organizing so making it the theme for another month will (hopefully) let me off the hook and I can keep diving in. As far as presentation is concerned, I feel like I’ve spent enough time incubating and cultivating and I need to start sharing (or as Seth Godin says shipping) my work. Art isn’t art until it’s been shipping and I’ve been stopping myself bc nothing is in its final form, but I need to get over that. First, I need to prepare my work so it is functional, useful, and most importantly something I can look on with pride. I’ve met too many people who could benefit from the work I do and I’ve been selfishly keeping it to myself. The unveiling is near.

CM: Looking back, I can see that Chris before he was a parent, had a lax sense of time. That guilt I felt for wasting time was properly founded. Ever since becoming a parent, I see how much of a luxury time is. I did start showing my work to people this year, specifically my students. Things are moving, just much slower than anticipated.

End of the month: This month has been a fun one. I revived my interest in social media and I’ve taken a few more steps to focus on presentation. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m much further. The progress this month in each of these domains has been measurable, at least I feel like I’ve made solid progress. I didn’t revamp my website like I wanted to, but I’ve been putting that on the back burner because I’m finding that I may need to put a similar kind of energy elsewhere. Focusing on organization again has helped me dive deeper into database creating. I’ve taken it much further than just with Notion. I’ve been able to tap into my engineering training and build spreadsheets for the new business I want to start. My ability to organize and present turned my failing business model into a profitable one and now all I need to do is execute. I know I’m usually pleasantly surprised by the improvements I make by doing these themes, but this one was insane. My new systems for journaling, creating, task managing, and now budget optimizing are so valuable to me and I’m so happy I focused on these two this month. Hands down the best call of the year so far. I want to continue organizing in a way that values presentation, it’s so important.

CM: Wow. Looking back at this, I can still agree. The time I spent organizing this month was pivotal to my survival later this year. That task manager I built helped me survive as a first-year teacher, dad, student, etc. Plus those builds I made for the business are now vital tools we use every day to make the process easy. I can see that organizing and having systems in place, help brace us for the intense winds of life.

🧭 February – Leadership & Persistence

Beginning of the month: This month I want to focus on my leadership abilities and boosting my persistence. I’m about to start a new company and I want to make sure this one runs well. No one is going to ensure that but me so I will need to tap into my leadership abilities and enhance them if I want things to work out. I’m starting to see that I need to have an extremely clear vision and I need to be able to enroll other people in that idea and that all comes with leadership. Like Elon Musk said, organizing people better gives you access to more spending power. That’s what I’m looking for. As for persistence, I know I’m going to be dealing with some intense days and I’m going to need to be able to persist through those rough conditions, but also I’m going to need more persistence if I want to sell lotion to an extremely complex society. I’m hoping this month will bring these traits out of me in a way that allows me to keep improving later.

CM: I was so unsuspecting.

End of the month: This month I was thrown for the biggest loop of my life and I lost sight of my themes for a while. Despite the turbulence, Leadership and Persistence have definitely been developed. The new information I got this month unlocked a new level of everything inside of me. While I was trying, half-assed I admit, to develop myself in leadership and persistence, this new jolt has given me everything I need to be an effective leader. Not just of a company, not just of my life, but of my family’s life as well. I’ve also learned how to push myself much further than my perceived capacities. I’ve accomplished things this month I never thought I could. Again I’ve been confronted with the impossible and again I contend with it. This time it is voluntary, and this time the stakes are high. In this case, I have accessed something much deeper than mere persistence. It’s like I have direct access to the fire of humanity inside myself. I am reborn. I was worried that I was going to lose my ability to write and be creative through the new changes, but now I see that staying connected to them in the midsts of the chaos is what will enrich life further. I can see I am even more capable of what I was capable of before. It is almost like constraints allow us to access more of our potential, but only after a certain time. I don’t want to be too specific in this entry in case I make it public, but I’m happy with the developments I’ve made over the years and I’m excited to see where this takes me.

CM: Reflection is so important. It keeps me on the path, and I need to stay on it more than ever because my daughter needs me. This is the month I found out I was going to be a father, and I learned that I have a hell of a lot more in me than I ever imagined. I didn’t mention the pregnancy directly because we weren’t telling anyone yet. But I’m very happy that I caught my feelings about the moment when I had them.

🐢 March – Stillness & Planning

Beginning of the month: This month I need to learn how to be still. I tend to spin out of control and I destroy the order I work too hard to create. When I come from a place of stillness, I obtain access to intentionality and I can craft the world in my image. This is more crucial than ever. More depends upon my ability to pay attention and sublimate, both of which are accomplished through accessing stillness, Internal stillness. On top of that, I need to develop my planning abilities. I have too much to get ready for and not a lot of time. This month I can spend working on how to plan, while developing a plan so I can keep my boat afloat, so to speak. I was worried that I would not be able to get everything done, but I can see that by using the practices I’ve been learning I can overcome anything. Take uncertainty and turn it into order through stillness and planning. Fear will shrink with understanding. I always have a moment to regroup.

CM: I still believe this is how I got myself from spinning out of control to actually designing my world. I remember a lady saying that my chances of teaching in a classroom this year a 0%. Hah. Turns out I was right – at least that is what it seems to me. Approaching the world from stillness helps to craft the world in my image.

End of the Month: This month has been a wild ride, but I feel like the stillness and planning have seeped in a little deeper. After spending almost $2,000 on Sione, I realized that I can create cheaper prototypes if I just took the time to plan every little detail. Everything can be thought of first before a single action is taken. It is not just with creating prototypes for business. It’s also the case with trading, packing, eating, everything. Taking the time to plan in stillness gives me an opportunity to properly use my prefrontal cortex. I’ve even been able to quell some of my anxiety. Maybe it’s because I went in on this whole job thing (getting a job with Nanobiologics, taking the CSETs and CBEST, and hitting Sione harder) might have helped, but I do believe part of it was because I was intentionally trying to plan in stillness. Practicing these themes helped me fine-tune more “rich life” stuff for my future as well – planning and stillness give me an opportunity to improve and reflect which allows me to improve current lifestyle choices. For example, Kyra and I took a vacation to Palm Springs and spent a significant amount of time preparing food, grocery shopping, etc. Since I was practicing these themes, I realized that I could make things better by planning. Lost resources are a result of poor planning. So next time, I want to schedule grocery pick-ups in the destination city where I am vacationing so I can just drive to the store, pick up exactly what I want, and move forward. Eventually, I want to have an assistant do that. These themes were fantastic and I’m definitely going to do it again in the future.

CM: That prototype lesson was an expensive one, but an important one. Moving forward, I will be able to do proper product launches without spending insane amounts of money. So many little lessons came out of this year.

⭐️ April – Endurance & Faith

Beginning of the month: I’ve noticed that I can’t do anything for as long as I’d like, or as long as I used to. That needs to change. Especially now, when stakes are getting higher. I can’t afford slippage due to a small attention span or lack of endurance. I need to be able to do things for longer stints of time, not just so I can be more productive, but because I feel like it’s what’s necessary for success in the domains I’m in. The second theme isn’t so much a characteristic or quality that I have, but I do believe faith is something I need to pay more attention to. Faith is a necessary component when doing something difficult or different and often I feel as if I am not capable of doing those things. Faith is the necessary first step before anything else. It’s what fuels initial action and keeps me going during hardships. I feel as if I need to exercise more faith in myself and the things I’m pursuing. I need the faith to know that I’m not in over my head.

April 20th: I’m feeling like I always find myself on losing teams and I’ve spent this period of time trying to bet on myself. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I have the time to do that anymore. I need to get on a winning team. I need to be a star player. One of the two. I only really feel like I have control over one, and it’s being a star player, but that’s exhausting.

CM: There was a lot of uncertainty during this time. I had no idea if my other ideas would be enough to sustain a family and it didn’t seem like I was going to find a teaching job. That faith was critical though. I see why faith is a pillar in all world religions. It is truly the first step in changing your life.

End of the month: This month was tough. I know for a fact that I just did some things just purely because I was trying to “prove to myself” that I have faith. My faith in things is constantly being testing and because I don’t have faith in many things, my endurance takes a hit. I never get a chance to develop my endurance because I don’t believe in anything enough to stick with it. This month I finally paid enough attention to realize how much energy I dedicate just to “keep the vision” alive within me. When I was younger, I used to think that was the challenge, but now I see that I just have a problem with having faith. This also makes sense, because I like to know things and to be able to predict and faith, by definition, means to hold a belief without knowing for sure. This did give me an interesting lens through to see the month. I noticed certain phrases and quotes would stick out to me, perhaps because my orienting reflex is attuned to “faith and endurance” or maybe it’s because of divine intervention. One quote was something like “It’s easier to say in motion than to start” and that is something that’s been buzzing in my head the entire month. Some crazy things did happen though – I ran my first 3-mile run and I PR’d again this month. I don’t know how much I can keep doing this, but I know it’s a direct result of me testing my faith in my physical abilities and my desire to develop my endurance. I also wanted to take down the Sioné website and I felt like the entire lotion idea was silly, but in time Uncle Jr ended up saying that he would be the biggest fan in the lotion works. He was the last person I’d expect to enjoy the lotion. He said he sees multi-millionaire potential in me. I’m glad he can see that too. I bring this up because it’s something I lost faith in. I actually felt on some level like my themes didn’t apply to that portion of my business. But, it does. I learned that faith is necessary and if I can’t keep it, there are more things it’s costing me like my endurance. A lot of what I believe makes me weak stems from my lack of faith. I’m happy to have learned this and I’m excited to see what happens moving forward.

CM: Thank God I didn’t. The things I staked my faith on this year, Sione and teaching, are the things that were foundational to my ark, so to speak. There were a lot of small events that gave me just enough juice to keep going. Crazy.

🔎 May – Awareness & Integrity

Beginning of the month: This month I’m going to focus on awareness and integrity. I want to tap into a deeper awareness of myself and my surroundings. I want to be able to pay attention in a higher capacity. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not paying attention to the most important things, maybe it’s just hindsight haunting me. But regardless, I want to be able to pay attention and notice things better than I do now. I’m hoping it will help me unlock part of what’s keeping me down. Additionally, I want to work on my integrity this month. Integrity as defined as I would back in 2014. Being in integrity is a state of being whole and complete. It’s an intense state, but it’s also peaceful. It requires intense responsibility and….awareness!, but I know it would be nice to have things whole and complete before things get really crazy this year. I want to define some of the things I want to strive for this month, just so I know. All commitments to myself will be kept. All commitments to others will be kept. My workspaces will be orderly unless they are in the process of creating. My calendar will be respected and updated. My conscience will be obeyed. These are high ideals, but I think they are worth striving for.

CM: Little did I know that I would spend the next 5 months trying to do exactly this. haha! I wish I could tell myself that I make it out perfectly fine on the other side.

End of the month: This month, the themes weren’t as present and forefront as they have been in the other months. I’ve paid a little bit more attention to integrity and I might have been doing better in maintaining integrity with my things. I say might have because I haven’t been really been paying attention. That being said, I have been trying to maintain some of the entropy that builds in my environments and digital spaces. I think spending just a little time and making things nice so they can work FOR me later instead of AGAINST me. If I don’t keep up with the maintenance, the systems I have put in place become sources of stress. Keep thy house and thy house shall keep the becomes more and more relevant as I get older. I have been using my awareness to tap into more than what I normally pay attention to. I’m using my awareness to illuminate new pathways and the fire inside me from becoming a new parent helps me walk down these paths. Overall, this month wasn’t too crazy but I do think my themes helped keep things relatively organized.

CM: Still battling with this today. I am doing better though. My environment is slowly becoming more conducive to my life. Slowly.

🦄 June – Gratitude & Consistency

Beginning of the month: I want to practice gratitude and consistency because I’ve been terribly inconsistent. I’m worried that my inconsistency is ruining my life. My streaks app is becoming some of a hassle and it’s annoying resetting everything all the time. It’s also difficult to constantly make new rules so I’m “rigging the game to win.” I’ve taken this too far and now I don’t even know if I’m playing the same game anymore. My hypothesis is that I am not consistent because I am not grateful. Although I practice gratitude every morning, I believe I lose sight of it because I don’t act consistently. If I was truly grateful, I would see the moment in front of me as an opportunity to “get the bag” as Jordan would say. I’m hoping this consistency is good practice for fatherhood as well.

CM: The slippage was just beginning, consistency a common challenge for me this year. I’m just now grappling with this breakdown, 6 months later. haha!

End of the month: I did better with gratitude. I had some slip-ups, but the pressure is starting to really turn on. I feel like my age and my accomplishments aren’t matching up and it’s messing with my ability to stay consistent. I suppose I’ve been consistently procrastinating and avoiding making music, but I wanted to be consistent in the practices that I deemed positive and good. I don’t think my hypothesis is correct regarding consistency and gratitude. I suppose there is a connection, but what’s blocking my ability to be consistent is much deeper than that. I did spend some time trying to clean my space and optimize for consistency, but that’s taking longer than I expected and it’s starting to feel like another way of procrastination. This month was rough for my themes to be honest.

CM: I really started to lose my grip in June. The craziest part is that it was going to get much harder.

🌆 July – Patience & Faith

Beginning of the month: I’ve been having a tough time picking the themes this month. I sat on it for a few days and I’m settling on “Paciencia y Fe” from In The Heights. Love the music, hated the movie, to be honest. But Patience and faith are going to be the themes I’m going to call upon this month. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been patient enough and it’s been making me really upset. Things aren’t looking anyway that I’d hoped, but perhaps it’s not my time. Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions, looking at it from the wrong angle. Perhaps I still need patience and faith. Perhaps I’m not at the end, or even the middle, but still at the start. I need to believe in patience and I need to keep the faith so I can move forward at all. Admittedly, I’ve lost faith and it probably has been showing. Hopefully paying attention to this will give me that little push I’m looking for.

Side note: I’ve also been reading Kierkegaard and faith is a big theme that I noticed he liked to talk about too. Same with Jordan Peterson. They both talk about faith in the context of the Biblical Abrahamic stories and I feel like I could take a lesson or two (or three) from it.

CM: I usually try to not repeat themes, but I remember things were looking pretty bleak for a while. It’s just what I need though! I need to remember this time in my life in case I ever encounter another time I am feeling helpless and hopeless. “Perhaps I’m not at the end, or even the middle, but still at the start.” – a possibility that I intellectually knew could be true but I didn’t believe it could be.

End of the month: I was at the start. Talk about a miracle. I got a teaching job and it took all the patience and faith I had. I felt like I was cutting it so close this year, but I just needed to give it time. I had more interview offers than I expected. I even turned some down! Plus I’m at a school that I believe I fit pretty well in. Perhaps it’s luck, perhaps it isn’t. I learned that faith is a tricky beast. It’s so easy to not have it, but it’s so necessary for everything. If you want a better life, you need the faith to take the first steps of a long journey. Now that I’m at my “big boy” job, I can see a whole new future in front of me. It’s easy to lose faith when we’re in a tough. It’s easy to believe that life will always remain bleak. But if we can do the harder thing, if we can choose faith, we at least have a chance for something better. And if Fortune smiles upon us, then we may be able to move to where we intend. This month is proof that is true. This month has changed how I see faith forever. Paradigm shifting.

CM: I’ve been keen on keeping possibilities open after this month. Anything is possible. What I am convinced to be true, isn’t necessarily true. Beneficial or detrimental. I had to keep faith that my plan could work…and it has been. Incredible. For the first in my life, things were going exactly as I wanted them to. It’s given me the necessary confidence going into fatherhood.

🎒August – Prioritization & Balance

Beginning of the month: This month is crazy. My first year as a teacher has put me in a position where my work truly never ends and there are consistent deadlines. While I tried to adopt this lifestyle into my creative outlets and I’m familiar with how this does, I never felt the pressure like I do now. I can see that the only way I’ll make it through is clear prioritizing and execution. As long as I hit the priority tasks, I can keep my head above water. That being said, I need to have balance in my life too. I can tell the balance is starting to escape me, so I need to be a little more intentional with incorporating balance into my life.

CM: Adjusting to teaching was so hard. Everyone says being a first-year teacher is brutal, and they are 110% right. Teachers should get paid more, it’s not a job that anyone can do and it requires an extremely specific skill set. I can say now that those first few months gave me much-needed experience that is difficult to refute and fruitful to my creative projects.

End of the month: I’m learning to balance and prioritize better. I’m not sure if the school year just chilled out or if I’ve gotten better at these skills. I’ve learned to set hard time deadlines or hard accomplishment milestones to mark the end of the workday. Sometimes it’s tough and leaks into the weekend, but I supposed that’s the nature of the beast. I know for a fact that I need to keep practicing this skill and I can see my life getting better as a result of that. Prioritization and balance are two meta-skills worth exploring. I can tell that even just paying attention to these two skills I’ve elevated my performance by years. Psychologically it makes things easier too. I feel like running helped me get used to pushing through mental barriers to reach goals. There’s always a point when you want to quit and my relationship with running helps me choose to keep going at least a little bit further than I thought.

CM: I think it’s so cool that all the lessons I’ve learned in every part of my life help all the other parts. Looking back, I believe that I got better at the skills. The school year didn’t chill out, it just kept getting more and more intense.

🏗 September – Restructuring & Compassion

Beginning of the month: I feel like all the systems I’ve developed have been neglected and the only thing that’s been carrying me through the never-ending stream of chaos and novelty is my knowledge of how to develop systems to manage the chaos. As a result, there are insufficiencies in everything. I was planning on only dedicating a day or an afternoon to restructuring but I think it’s better to give it a month. Hopefully, I can get myself back to a place where I just need to “press play” so to speak. As for compassion, I feel like it’s easy for me to hold myself to tough standards and as a result hold others to tough standards as well. It’s easy to dismiss others’ shortcomings as either incompetence, ignorance, laziness, or malice, but I cannot so easily justify my own. It’s easy to accept that other people make those choices, but it’s not easy to accept that I make those choices because I don’t believe I do. I cannot say that about ignorance. And so I’m going to experiment with compassion and see if I can faster restructure my life having compassion for myself rather than contempt. I’ve found that holding contempt for my “lower” self sufficiently motivates me, but I do feel tired and I need to rest and stop thinking. Maybe these things are connected, maybe not. We will soon find out.

CM: I was stressed and overwhelmed this month. In some respects, I still feel like I’m picking up the pieces from earlier this year. I didn’t have an end-of-the-month reflection for September. This was the beginning of the “dark ages” I’ll call them. Even looking back on this journal entry, it was hard to identify exactly what I was saying but one thing is for certain: things were crazy for me.

A meditation on the major events of 2021

The original plan for this year included:

Finishing my book. Launching my courses. Launching my first physical product. Releasing original music.

Kyra was planning on starting medical school as well as her book.

Instead, Kyra got pregnant.

I’m hoping to capture my experience of becoming a parent in a future post.

This was the craziest and most productive year of my life. If you know me intimately, you would know that that’s really saying something.

When Kyra got pregnant, I had to stop and prioritize. All the plans I had were incongruent with becoming a father, mainly because they all take so much time, energy, and attention.

Admittedly, I was extremely stressed. I cried for 3 days straight and went through a transformative emotional experience, which was in part what motivated me to want to start writing my blog post on becoming a parent. Another motivation for that post was that I had no where to really look to explain what I was feeling. Part of that experience was captured in my monthly theme for February.

Despite the emotional experience, I also knew I needed to provide a level of stability that I have never been able to access before. I found myself completely in chaos. When I have too much chaos around me, I have a hard time creating and sticking to routines. I dedicated 150% of my attention and energy to finding a way to provide the kind of stability necessary for raising a child.

This led me to a bunch of crazy places – all dead ends. (day trading, e-commerce, consulting, etc.) All of these things could theoretically sustain a family, but not at the level that I was playing. However, I did learn that I can use all of these things over time to create serious wealth. I just need a solid foundation to build upon.

I reached out to a mentor who told me about schools in neighboring school districts have a science teacher shortage and there is no reason why anyone with a science degree shouldn’t have at least a 50k salary with full benefits. Some people see a salary as a death wish, but it has its uses – that is a post for another time.

I told him that I didn’t have a credential and the baby is due in November. Then he told me about the intern programs and that changed everything.

Turns out, you can work as a teacher with a full salary while getting your credential if you come in as an intern teacher. Now that I’ve completed about half of my program, I see that it’s actually a fairly common way for teachers to get in the classroom. At the time, I had never heard of anything like this.

This section isn’t going to be about all the steps of becoming an intern teacher, but I did have to jump through several hoops to get to where I am now. Maybe I’ll write a post on how I became a teacher, but I think it’s useful to reflect on the events here.

I had to take out student loans again…I really did not want to take out loans to pay for the program, but the ROI is hard to ignore. I took out 30k in loans to get access to a 56k salary plus benefits. It pays for itself.

Emotionally, it was difficult to pull the trigger on taking the loans but it’s what was able to kick off a wild adventure, to say the least.

However, there was more there for me than just a salary.

Getting a traditional job wasn’t ideal, but maybe I could turn this into something where I am still able to work on all the things I’ve been planning.

Working in a classroom gives me an opportunity to put my ideas in front of live students and get feedback. Plus, I can develop the muscle of writing lesson plans and planning curriculums. PLUS, I add to my education credibility as a teacher.

I immediately signed up for the CBEST and CSETs. At the time I didn’t know if I was going to get a math or science gig so I signed up for all of them. I spent about $400 in tests. I felt like I had no time to waste so I took them all within a 2 to 3 weeks with the exception of the CSET calc test which was taken a little later. I wanted to take them early, just in case I failed I had time to retake them…I later learned I didn’t need to take the tests, but they were an experience worth having.

I figured since I tutored all the time I would be able to take these tests no problem, that was true to an extent…a few days before each test, I took some practice tests and did some active recall just to make sure I was in good shape.

All of these tests turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated…this was the first sign that being a teacher was going to be more difficult than I was expecting. The first practice test I took was for math and I got a 40% on the test. I was also shocked to see so many concepts that I never heard of.

This was my chance to use all of these study techniques and student success skills that I’ve been writing about for myself.

I studied and used every technique that I knew – I passed all of them super quickly and on the first try…reminds me of when I took the FE, but with a lot more pressure. Except for the calculus math test, that was surprising and humbling. All teachers are wicked smart and there is not enough credit given to our teachers, especially the ones who have passed the CSET in their respective subjects.

Next, I enrolled in an online credential/Masters of Arts in Education program. I found a school that gave me the flexibility I needed.

This was also humbling – I always saw myself as someone who was going to go to an Ivy League and do great things, but my life took very different turns.

This experience taught me that it’s much better to find the spaces and places in this world that align with my values and give me access to the life I want rather than picking some prestigious institution and forming my life to their standards.

I was able to do everything from my laptop and if things got too crazy then I could always take a leave of absence. I’m proud to say I didn’t need to do it, but it was nice knowing that I could. This was also a great opportunity to put on the student-hat one more time and battle test all of my study skills and student success strategies for myself. I learned from my experiences in high school and college, I’ve helped many students, and now I get to try it out for myself after doing relatively more intentional research.

I’m hoping to get my grad school experience documented some how in the future, there’s been a lot that I’ve learned through this experience that didn’t necessarily get from the curriculum. [For example, it probably helped me be more compassionate towards my students this year because I’m also a student too.]

So far, I’m proud to say I have a 4.0 GPA in my graduate program and while I was expecting it to be easier than undergrad, it’s still been challenging.

I had to job hunt and interview with so many schools – I was nervous when it started getting closer and closer to the school year but eventually, I interviewed at a high school, was offered the job immediately after the interview, which I accepted.

Teaching is an entirely different blog post – life-changing for sure. It took a few months to get the hang of teaching there, and thankfully I was able to get my footing by the time my daughter was born.

This year was also filled with renovations and constantly working to get my house, and my life, in order for when the baby comes. We changed everything.

My daughter was born on October 28th, 2021. One of the best days of my life, probably the best day to date. When my daughter was born, I felt a rush of different feelings but one of the most memorable was the immense amounts of compassion that I had for all people. For the first time, I felt like I was part of the human race. I am connected to all people in a way that I never knew existed.

The newborn state was one of the most trying times of my life. 0-2 months was intense, mainly because I already felt maxed out from being a first-time teacher, working on my credential and master’s, and NO SLEEP. Sleeplessness made this time extremely hard, my decision-making was compromised and I couldn’t stick to my systems.

It was stressful, and like any stressful situation, I shorten my time horizon. I stopped looking at my life on a macro scale. I zoomed in and just focused on getting through the next hour.

I did this for 2 months.

Now, I’m trying to slowly introduce my routines back into my life. Things are still changing so quickly, I feel like the world that existed before working as a first-year teacher, grad student, and becoming a father is different than the world I’m in now. Maybe I’m just different, maybe it’s both.

🎄December – Vulnerability & Courage

Beginning of the month: I’ve missed the past two months. I was hoping that I could maintain everything while becoming a parent, but I could not keep it up. I’m learning that as a father, my actions matter more than ever so I’m getting back on the horse and paying attention to the systems I’ve developed to build myself into a better person. Starting with the themes – this month I’m trying out vulnerability and courage. One of the biggest realizations of becoming a parent is accepting the vulnerability that comes with having a child. After spending my whole life trying to make myself tougher, I discover that strength comes from accepting vulnerability and having the courage to not let it destroy you. Additionally, I need to have the courage to do a bunch of things to build a stable and fruitful world for Myla. I need the courage to start asking for what I need and relentlessly pursuing what I want. While those seem like simple things, I’ve had immense trouble being able to do those things and I see now that the price of omission is expensive and painful. Not being able to ask what I need and not being able to pursue what I want leaves me weak and I have to make up for the sins in payment that always resembles time away from my daughter.

CM: These are great lessons that I hope I can continue to call upon in 2022.

End of the month: Just like all the months before this one, I am happy to have taken the time to develop these themes. While I’m not as developed as I’d like to be, I’m in a better place than I was. Most of this year was spent running around frantically trying to find acceptance of myself so I can be a proper foundation for my daughter, and these two themes are at the heart of that. I’m learning to love my vulnerability and be unapologetic about my courage. This year was huge for me, and while I felt like there were times when all my creative pursuits were dead in the water, I learned that the human-animal loves a challenge. The human-animal needs challenge. And in those trials and tribulations, grows more to call upon when creating. So many times I felt like I was going off course, I was actually going deeper than I could fathom.

CM: Reflecting on this year showed me that reflecting on my year is crucial for my mental health, but also how I get most of my internal gains. All of the best lessons I’ve learned this year (and the ones that I attribute to my survival) have all come from serious reflection. This was a beautiful year, and I hope I can keep the growth going in 2022.

2020 Yearly Review: Time in Abundance

“Live as if you are living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.”

Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

Fred Rogers (Creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood)

A large part of this year is the COVID-19 pandemic which brought with it the phenomena of social distancing. This year the world changed forever. The future looks to be cashless. People no longer need to drive to work. Everyone is forced to find the joys in simplicity.

A lot of people claimed to have a terrible or wasted year, but I see it differently. We were given an abundance of time, which I would argue is the greatest gift of all. Staying home and not traveling under the threat of this virus has made everyone confront their own mortality and existence.

For me, I wanted to use the beautiful gift of time to have a year that I could look back on with pride.

I believe I did that.

I created more than ever before, I trained myself in so many ways, I made more money than ever before, and I learned so much about so many important subjects.

I underwent a physical, mental, financial, and creative revolution. Admittedly, this has been one of the best years of my life.

Last year, I started to assign themes to every month because I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers. It was a way to keep life from escaping me. Looking at the year in chunks of 4 weeks made every day feel a little more meaningful. The idea is that I pick two themes that I do not want to improve or focus on, or two areas where I feel weak and I try to improve them in any way I can. I keep this very low pressure (so I actually do it) and I record my thoughts on the process at the beginning and end of every month.

This is my first year of actually doing a full year of monthly themes. Last year I started this practice and I started roughly in the middle of the year. You can find 2019’s yearly review here.

Last year, I felt like I didn’t write enough. This year, I fear that I have written too much.

All journal entries are in italics and my comments from today follow CM:

January – Integrity & Steadfastness

Beginning of the month: I feel like last month I did a lot of work on my integrity, but last month I realize my integrity deficit was much higher than I anticipated. So this month I’m going to be focusing on my integrity again and trying to restore more of my integrity. As for steadfastness, I have a job interview coming up and I know I’m going to need to be firm in where I stand to not only get the job but to get the highest paying offer for it. I also feel like it would increase my self-respect. I read somewhere, probably some stoic philosophy, that a man’s ability to stand up for what he believes in is directly correlated to his belief that he belongs to be here on earth. I probably butchered it, but it’s something to that effect.

CM: “…a man’s ability to stand up for what he believes in is directly correlated to his belief that he belongs to be here on earth.” Who cares where I read it, ideas are of the Earth – still a beautiful lesson though. I feel like that was something I had a hard time with last year, but this year I’ve managed to internalize it.

Jan 17th: Integrity is a tough theme. I know the point of this tracking system is to improve myself even if it’s just one percent, but now I feel like I’m not making progress until the whole system improves dramatically. It’s the wrong perspective, but it lights a fire under my ass to get better faster. As far as steadfastness, I can see myself in specific moments when I know I should be more assertive or stand my ground, but I choose not to. It’s strange. I get really upset about it, but now that my eyes are open to the exact moment when I need to kick my steadfastness to high gear, I’m less upset. I guess it’s the idea that I have a choice, a say, in the matter that gives me slight relief. I give into the weaker side of myself more often when those moments come, but it’s nice to know when they’re here.

CM: Baby steps are everything. Upward trajectory is everything.

End of the Month:  Integrity was a big battle this month. Paying attention to my integrity is always difficult because I have such a strict definition of being “whole” within my integrity. Something as small as my room being dirty or my bag being in the wrong spot was enough to pull my attention away. However, the challenge is welcomed. I’ve developed a more refined version of the attention I pay to myself and the things I care about. I know this is valuable moving forward, but goddamn was it a bitch to revive in me again. Steadfastness is the real win for this month though. I feel a lot better sticking to my guns when times get tough and not feeling as bad for people when I can’t deliver on their arbitrarily developed wants and “needs.” This requires years of unlearning and I feel like this month I made real headway in this. My ability to be steadfast is going to be crucial for me in the next few months since I’m embarking on this creative journey. I can already feel the attacks on my identity (from myself) and my proclivity for withdrawal is creeping in ever so slowly but as long as I focus on my steadfastness, I should be okay.

CM: I am a lot less tough on myself now (in the unhealthy way that I was so desperately trying to purge at the beginning of the year). So far I’m glad I’m doing this review. It really helps me see the growth I’ve had over the year.

February – Articulation & Patience

Beginning of the month: Articulation is one of the themes I’ve found throughout every book I’ve ever read, every lecture I’ve ever listened to, and pretty much everything I’ve ever researched. Higher articulation leads to a better life with less suffering. So I’m going to focus on trying to articulate myself as specifically as I can. I can tell a lot of my fears and insecurities lies in my unarticulated speech and part of me knows I’m “letting myself get away” with these insufficiencies by not bringing them to light. I know I’m not going to stop it all this month, but like my steadfastness, I want to move in the right direction. The trajectory is more important than where I actually am now. Articulation. So important. Too important for me to not practice. As for patience, I know I do this one every couple of months. I used to feel like an asshole for constantly needing to pay attention to my patience, but I’ve learned to develop compassion for myself here. A huge part of the culture I’ve grown up in leans towards instant gratification and swiftness. The faster the better in this day and age, and I’m seeing that belief manifest in all things I do. I know that some things aren’t better when they’re faster, like learning and cooking, but I have to create a conscious effort in doing things that take a long time. If I want to be successful in creative endeavors, I need to maintain my vision, keep the faith, and have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is the empire I am building. I have to remember that if I focus on running the systems I’ve developed to create effectively and if my patience stays intact, in time I will be feasting my eyes upon a beautiful empire of my creation that provides value and positivity for those who enter.

CM: Lot’s of good lessons here. “Higher articulation leads to a better life with less suffering.” “The trajectory is more important than where I actually am now.“If I want to be successful in creative endeavors, I need to maintain my vision, keep the faith, and have patience.” I feel like I’ve really brought those with me throughout the year!

End of the month: I feel like both of these themes were challenges at first, but paying more attention to my articulation has allowed me to develop patience. If I found myself in a situation where I could clearly articulate exactly what I meant, how could I fault someone else for not understanding what I meant clearly? Being aware of this helped me take more responsibility in my interactions with people. However, it has made me listen to how people try to articulate themselves and I see, with growing certainty every day, that most people can barely explain what they mean. The ability to articulate is not something that people spend a lot of time doing. Not gonna lie, there were people I “helped” this month who are worse off because they cannot articulate themselves. From now on I want to treat articulation as a virtue and try to further sharpen my abilities. As for patience, this month worked as a practice in presenting myself in the terms of making myself present to the moment. My practice of patience has given me the ability to see the moment in relation to the entirety of my life. Learning patience has been more than a temporal journey. Being patient enough to endure the moment of sacrifice is something I found worth practicing. It helps me sacrifice more often and thus reap the rewards of that sacrifice. Like other months, I honestly felt like working on these two wasn’t worth the energy but now that the month has wrapped up, I can say wholeheartedly that it helped in more ways than I expected. I love delightful surprises.

CM: I feel like this month helped me understand the importance of keeping my linguistic skills sharp. I also feel like I’ve internalized “being patient enough to endure the moment of sacrifice.” I’ve done a lot of difficult things this year, by my own personal standards, and I feel like it comes from me being patient enough to endure the moment of sacrifice. Perhaps this just sticks out to me because my theme for this month as I am writing is Sacrifice.

March – Disagreeableness & Vision

Beginning of the month: Disagreeableness because I’m tired of using my agreeableness as an excuse to do things that make me weak. My agreeableness is less of a virtue and more like a crutch these days. So I’m going to actively try to be more disagreeable. The path to wisdom is through the point of the forest darkest to me, right? I’m terrified of being disagreeable, probably because I’m terrified of rejection. Hopefully, I get the crossed wires straightened out this month, or at least start to. As for vision, David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, inspired this for me. He talked about how he hated what television was at the time and worked on The Sopranos, which was the total opposite of what was showing on TV those days. He didn’t go against the grain for shits and giggles, but because he had a greater vision for the show. I believe, after just watching it, and seeing many interviews with Chase, that the show had a larger commentary on life and how we choose to experience the privilege that is consciousness. The man has a vision bigger than anyone could understand, and he saw it through to the end. Down to every single word. I feel like both of these themes will work nicely together to bring out my own vision. I have a vision for myself and my life and I have seen time and time again that pushing my vision is the way to bring about the Kingdom of God. I don’t say this to mean that I know what is best for everyone around me, but I do know what is best for myself if I follow the signs that God has given me, so to speak. I’m terrified, but I’m ready for battle.

End of the month: Not gonna lie, there was more than 1 day that when by and I forgot about this entirely. I’m not going to blame COVID-19, but social distancing has put a kink in my plans for sure. Since I’m being honest with myself here, I can admit that I don’t think I got better in terms of developing my disagreeableness or capacity for vision. Some days I forgot and that means I’m dedicating my energy elsewhere. Plus, I didn’t write it on my whiteboard this month. Just goes to show that my whiteboard really influences my mind. I don’t feel like I’ve developed these skills properly even with the slight development I did practice this month. On the days that I did practice being disagreeable, I felt it affecting the relationships with my family and Kyra. I guess it makes sense, considering that agreeableness is a common trait I have with these people so they all have some level of agreeableness that they require for them to be satisfied in a relationship. That being said, I feel like I did not develop my disagreeableness correctly because it negatively affected my life. Not that I’m saying anything that causes negativity in my life is bad, but I wanted to develop my disagreeableness to work in my favor and not to my detriment. Getting my way at the cost of others is an effective way to get things done, but it’s not something I’m willing to practice, especially on my loved ones. As far as vision goes, I guess I did a little better. I’ve been getting better at working out consistently. I think that blog post I did on Churchill stuck with me more than I expected. The lesson I got from it was something like – “It does not matter if the battle was won or lost yesterday, the fact is we have to fight it again today.” There was another quote I found fascinating it was something like – “studying the way of the warrior and living a warrior’s life is very different.” I feel like focusing on vision, setting my aims to improve my vision (not physically, but my mind’s eye), has helped me grasp these quotes and lessons through the transcendent. These quotes are not only fantastic for me, but they give me a pretty clear idea of what tomorrow will look like too. Most likely, I will feel the same way and experience the same obstacles, but the difference will be how I choose to act in those moments. Over time, these choices will dictate my life and I will experience what I deserve. Perhaps. I’ve known this for a while, but I feel like this month I have really internalized that idea. I’m not vice free, however. I feel like I’m struggling up against my self-destructive tendencies pretty hard this month, but I feel like that is a function of the uncertainty that lies in my country.

CM: March was scary and difficult because of the pandemic, but I guess this was a great time to think this way. In retrospect, the pandemic hitting helped propel me into doing a lot of creative work this year. I was trying to figure out what could drive me and at the same time, I get hit with the greatest gift, time. Honestly, this was my most creative year yet and I think a lot of it is due to being in this headspace when the pandemic hit. I didn’t see the result immediately, but once I understood that the pandemic isn’t as bad as I was anticipating I started creating like Alexander Hamilton writing The Federalist Papers.

April – Tracking & Disagreeableness

Beginning of the month: Last month, I made some progress, but it was mostly disappointing. Some crazy things happened, like a global quarantine, which is still going on and it made me realize that I need to learn how to adjust to atypical conditions. At first, it felt like a vacation but then I realized that this is going to be at least a significant portion of this year and I better learn how to stay on the upswing or this could be terrible for me. So I’m deciding to go back to “What gets measured, gets managed” and I’m going to work on my tracking abilities. I feel like as long as I’m tracking and trying to improve, I’ll make more progress this month in terms of personal development, rather than feeling like I didn’t do much. I even wanted to scrap this entire monthly theme thing, but I didn’t want all my work to go to waste. Hopefully, I can take advantage of that little mental tick I have and trick myself into sticking with more worthwhile things just simply because I won’t cut my losses. I also want to bring back disagreeableness again. I didn’t do it right last month. I need more finesse. I feel like season 1 Peter Campbell from Mad Men, I’m trying to play a game that I don’t understand and as a result, I’m pissing off everyone around me. In the show, he gets better at playing the advertising game and I’m hoping I can get better at the disagreeable game as well. This already feels like a bitch, but like what Schopenhauer says – a man just moves back and forth between pain and boredom.

CM: This probably saved my life. This tracking month was so crucial in influencing how I operate today. Tracking is the reason anything is better than it was at the start of the year.

End of the month: So I fucking love tracking. I downloaded an app called Streaks where you can choose different things you want to keep track of and it records things like how many days in a row you have done something, what time of the day you complete a streak, what days of the week you complete them, and other things too. It’s been eye-opening to see all how I work. Even without realizing it, I have patterns. Like I always break productive streaks on Fridays! I’m not sure why. Mondays and Wednesdays are my most productive, I usually don’t miss writing or producing on those days. It’s also been nice to have something that keeps track of time during this pandemic. The weeks are starting to blend together. Tracking my habits this way has also allowed me to start journaling consistently. It’s nothing serious or deep, just a quick 5-minute journal that facilities gratitude, sets positive trajectories, reflections, and potential improvements. I’ve been able to actually improve my days as it goes on. I’ve even noticed my tracking habits spilling onto Kyra as well. It just goes to show that our actions have a much bigger impact than we think. Thank God I started this monthly theme thing. It’s been an anchor in chaotic times and a springboard for all my best practices. As far as disagreeableness is concerned, I feel like I have made tremendous improvement. I believe I’ve found a balance between being disagreeable and being a total cunt. I’ve been able to stick to my guns and stay firmly planted in my positions (within reason, of course) without compromising relationships or self-respect. I’m not sure how to exactly articulate how, but paying attention to my “magnitude of disagreeableness” has helped tremendously in developing disagreeableness within myself. This month could have been a disaster, but because of these themes, I feel like I have come out of this a much better person with an exciting future. I’m going to continue using the streaks app as long as I can.

CM: Streaks app changed my life. Every once in a while I change the habits depending on my priorities at the time, but it’s been a Godsent. I can’t even begin to explain how crucial tracking is. I’m still using the Streaks app and it’s a staple in my life now. I will probably never leave it.

May – Scheduling & Practice

Beginning of the month: Last month was amazing!! I made leaps and bounds in the worlds of wisdom and habits, but this month I would like to focus on scheduling and practice. I’ve been using my calendar a lot less since the pandemic started and I’ve noticed that I have a difficult time trying to fit everything I want to fit in one day. I’ve noticed that some tasks are put off for days and sometimes weeks. My rooms have gotten dirty, clutter has risen, and I keep saying I’ll clean later or I’ll write later or I’ll produce later, then the days end and I have no energy to do anything. I used to schedule everything I did and I knew that before the pandemic, I could get mountains of work done within 24 hours. Now, I’m lucky if I can get 5 things done. This month I’m going to attempt to return to my roots and schedule everything. Thankfully, I know a thing or two about it so this month isn’t really about getting better and scheduling but reviving the practice in my life again. Another perfect theme for this month is practice. Kyra is reading The Practicing Mind, and I’m finding that book to be eye-opening. Focusing on practice will create more results than my product focus mind has been. I know this to be true from my own experience as well as experiences from others, so I’m excited to see what comes out of May 2020.

CM: I don’t have that much to say specifically about this month, but I want to acknowledge myself for developing the level of self-awareness I’ve been painstakingly cultivating over the past few years.

End of the Month: This month was interesting. Being practice focused helped me get so much work done. It just goes to show that focusing on the process rather than the product is exactly the right way to spend our attention. Focusing on results makes it harder to generate results and I end up not wanting to write or make music at all. I’m glad I practiced practicing this month. It’s def something I’m going to bring with me on future adventures. I went from thinking my blog and YouTube channel are going to die to having slack in both of those art forms. The blog slack isn’t much, but I’m relieved of the pressure of my deadlines which is what really matters. It’s so strange, I’m terrible under pressure, but I acknowledge that I need it in my life. AS FOR SCHEDULING, this was a hot mess. I tried to schedule things for myself at the beginning of the month and it just wasn’t working out for me, which is extremely weird because I know that scheduling is key to high yield productivity and mental clarity. I think it might be because of the pandemic, now that I’m on my own time I don’t feel the pressure to do everything at a scheduled time as long as I get everything I want done in the day. I’ve been doing really well at getting what I need to get done, but that wasn’t the point of the theme. I was supposed to practice scheduling and instead ignored it. I did somethings, like pay attention to the days I drink alcohol, but that’s not as substantial as I know the changes could be when practicing these themes.This is going to be a theme I’m practicing again.

CM: It is true, deadlines can be fatal to me if I get too close to them, but I do need them in my life or nothing will get done. It is only time that will force me to say “good enough!” I really screwed up the scheduling theme, but I’m glad I decided to just try again instead of admonishing myself for failing like I normally do. Compassion for myself comes in low supply, but it’s oh so important.

June – Scheduling & Limit Expansion

Beginning of the month: Scheduling is something I need to get better with. I feel like I’m getting what I need to get done on my own time and that’s great, but I feel like I could get more done. Plus I had a few hiccups last month as far as forgetting tutoring sessions and other poor scheduling related issues. Limit Expansion is something I’m definitely not excited about, and that’s how I know it’s a good theme. By Limit Expansion I mean I want to expand my current limits of everything in my life and welcome every opportunity to do so. Right now, I feel like it’s better to stick with what I have going on, but the part of me that’s aiming the highest knows that I need to expand my horizons. Hopefully this doesn’t end in flames!

End of the month: So scheduling I did better with. I started using my calendar more than I was before and it actually helped with getting things done! I know I didn’t use it to its full potential. I know how to do that and I know the power a good schedule has and I didn’t maximize the power of my schedule this month simply because I didn’t listen to it. There were times when something would come up on the calendar and I’d just reschedule it or ignore it. What I really should have done was sack up and do what my calendar says if possible. Regardless, it was a great exercise and helped me remember how powerful scheduling could be. Limit expansion has been the death of me this month, but I knew it would be. I increased my kettlebell swings, got a bigger tv, got a new credit card, got a new wardrobe, made new kinds of videos, watched tv shows I wouldn’t normally watch like Eastbound & Down and Righteous Gemstones (Limit Expansion helped me discover Danny McBride and thank God I did!). I love that my limits are expanded. I feel like a more full person and it’s lovely, but it also was extremely difficult to consistently move out of my comfort zone. It took many days of expended more energy than I was willing to. I guess that’s what life is like right. You get out what you put it. You have to be willing to give to receive. We grow by expending more energy.

CM: I feel like ever since this month my limits were expanding every month all the time. I became addicted to branching out. It’s opened so many doors for me and I feel like so much of the richness of my life came from me voluntarily opening myself up to the unknown and different.

July – Focus & Exploration

Beginning of the month: I want to practice my focus. Not necessarily how long I can focus or how hard I can focus, but I want to be able to focus on one thing at a time. Like truly just one thing at a time. I find myself often thinking about other things or wanting to do everything at once and there have been more than 1 occasion where I’ve tried to do that and it ruins everything. I love to stack things so I can move more efficiently, but I want to try things differently this time. I want to try to just focus on one thing at a time. This doesn’t have to mean move slower, but it does mean that when I’m doing something I need to trust that I will be able to complete the other things I want to do. I also want to try exploration as my other monthly theme. Exploring opens possibilities to serendipity and discovery. I want to look for moments to explore and discover. I also feel like giving myself permission to explore in this way will help with the intense guilt I feel for doing aimless exploration. Some things I specifically want to explore this month are photography and videography, but I’m open to other things as well.

June 10th – I want to start tracking more accurately, but I don’t have another place to log this so I’m going to put it here – From what I can tell, from working on blog posts and such, my average attention span is about 15 minutes. How embarrassing, it used to be so high. But that just goes to show the damage that atrophy can really do. Since this month’s theme is focus, I want to try to get that up.

CM: Oh I remember the struggles of not having a place to track my things. I use Notion for organizing little things like this, but also for the big things too.

End of the month: I feel like exploration was a hit! I dove deeper into video editing and investing. I started reading more books on investing. I feel like because I was focused on exploring, I was actively looking for new perspectives and opportunities. I see the world as a bigger place. It’s almost like exploration opens up my world. It makes sense intellectually, but it’s a whole different thing to live it. As for focus, I felt like I’ve been a little better at maintaining focus. My attention span is nowhere near where it was when I was heavy in my MCAT studying, but I feel like my focus is much more refined than it was at the beginning of the month. I feel like I’m able to voluntarily just focus in for small bursts of time, which has been a way that I’ve been getting myself to do certain things like writing or working out. I also feel like I’ve been more attuned to myself and my body. I can focus on my body and feel where I’m tight or what I’m feeling in general. That seems like a super small thing, but for me being able to know what my body needs is a new thing. I really enjoyed just exploring and focusing. This was one of my more fun months for sure. Learning about investing and video editing is so damn fun.

CM: It’s funny, I still have an “issue” with focusing on one thing at a time. I’m still plagued by the feeling of wanting to do everything at once. I’m still doing everything in short bursts of focus. I also feel like this year was massive in terms of recovery from trauma and seeing that I was taking steps to know what my body is feeling months before I knew that it would help with my trauma response.

August – Consistency & Delaying Gratification

Beginning of the month: Naturally, I had a hard time picking the new themes for this month, so I picked the first two things that made my mind go “fuck no.” I think consistency will be great because Mukiibi Enterprise is going through a massive rebranding, like everything on my website, and my music production channel is changing so consistency will help me get this massive project done. If I can consistently just do a little bit of work every day and try to focus on my daily habits, it should work out nicely. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten the best results when I’m just focusing on the day and doing my work consistently especially when I don’t feel like it. As for delaying gratification, I’ve noticed that my impatience may not be the only thing keeping me from having peace of mind. This month I’m going to practice not being gratified for my sacrifices. Hopefully committing to accepting little gratification for just this month can trick my brain into sacrificing more than I’m usually. I wasn’t excited for this month’s themes when I started writing this, but now that I know that I could get out of it I’m kind of stoked to try this out.

CM: I’m still working on some of the stuff I set out to do in August too. Better late than never and precisely why I spend the last month of this year trying to create new systems to manage my life’s complexity. I feel like what I was trying to do in August I managed to do in December, but not all the way.

End of the month: Oh boy. This month, consistency worked for things that I didn’t expect it to work for and it didn’t work for what I expected it to work for. Originally, I wanted consistency to be applied to my website, but I ended up applying it to my book. This month I’ve spent more energy on my book. I’ve pretty much stopped doing WIUW (temporarily) and I haven’t been uploading beats as frequently, but I’m making massive progress in my book and it’s starting to come together. I’m hoping to apply a little bit more pressure to get the first draft of it finished soon. Then I can turn it into courses and YT videos. I’m planning on doing a few more WIUWs on Final Cut Pro so I’m actually capable of editing my online course videos. I want those to be really nice, especially since I’ll be charging of them. BUT, I feel like I need to flesh out why I haven’t been working on the website. I originally wanted my website to be a funnel so I can have income coming in, but since the school year started up I’ve been getting a lot of tutoring business so I don’t really need to worry about making the website bomb. What I need to do is finished the book and start developing the part of my online empire that will actually net me money. I’m starting to see that the music side of my online presence isn’t going to be making me money anytime soon so I need to divert my attention away from it momentarily. I think using my YT channel as practice for my educational stuff is the right move. My educational content will be more searchable and that will be the way. As far as delaying gratification, I wanted to be able to sacrifice as much as I possibly could so I can have epic gains at the end of this month. Similar to consistency, it worked for the things I didn’t plan on it working for and not the things I planned. I don’t play as many video games, but that may be bc there aren’t any good games to play rn. I did start jump roping and that was insane. I really had to channel the delaying gratification part of myself to get this habit going, but I’m starting to like it now.

CM: I was wrong in switching my perspective to follow what would make me money. Now I know to work on projects so the projects actually get better, not so they can fit a financial timeline. My projects are prioritized to be better, not to make me money. I was letting imaptience get the better of me and mixing up competence with income. It’s also neat to see that I started to jump rope this month and even started to like it because it’s evolved into a full-blown passion for running.

September – Intuition & Prioritization 

Beginning of the month: I need to work on trusting my gut. I feel like I know what’s best for me but I don’t listen to myself often. This is most obvious with my trading behavior in the stock market. I know when I have to sell, but I don’t and I regret it the next day. This happens with many other things too. Particularly in my professional relationships. This month I’m going with my gut. As far as prioritization, I feel like I need to be able to just focus on one thing at a time. I have a lot going for me right now. I’m caught up in a web of my own making and now is the time to focus. I’ve spent a lot of time getting most of my ideas from 0 to 1 and now I need to work on getting each idea from 2 to n, n being a place where I can get some passive income (maybe even some f u money). I think the way to do this is to focus on one idea at a time. I’m not going to stop producing content for all of my outlets, but I’m going to try to not feel guilty for not producing as much. Right now, I want to focus on finish the book and bringing that whole idea up to speed. This is going to be insane that’s for damn sure.

CM: Spoiler alert: the years almost over, and the book still isn’t finished. It’s okay though because I am making it better. I feel like I’ve been in the same loop since August. I’m happy that I’ve done this review because I’ve been able to see my patterns and discover explanations for emotions I’ve been feeling over the months.

End of the month: I feel like I trust my gut a lot more than I have in the previous month. It’s kind of nice because I’ve been working on trying to believe myself for a while now and I’m just starting to do it. I think it’s because I’ve been looking into more Ancient Greek history and I internalized, for the first time ever, that Socrates really believes that he knew nothing and that gives me great solace. I think the themes allow my orienting reflex to look for reasons to believe in myself despite my proclivity to think I’m an idiot. The themes provide the breeding ground for the knowledge to actually make a difference. As far as prioritization goes, I feel like I’ve done well at that. I’m scaling back on my music output (even though I made $150 this month from music) so I can focus on my writing. I made the announcement public on my YT channel, and the support I got was so unexpectedly positive. I kept feeling like if I lowered the magnitude of my uploading then I would surely lose all the work I’ve put in over the past year. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I feel like I have a better connection with my subs and I’ve been growing at roughly the same rate. It’s a little lower, but that performance hit was to be expected. Purposely cutting back on something that was rewarding me and could potentially net a huge amount of money makes me feel like my writing has even higher stakes. In a way, the sacrifice feels more now but that’s good because it’s lit a fire under my ass. I haven’t been writing more, in terms of time, but I believe my writing has been of a much higher quality and I’m spending more of my energy refining the things that will eventually blossom into something much bigger. Prioritization has helped me feel less overwhelmed and more present with my students too. I definitely want to take these themes with me as I move forward. These themes are never as insane of a journey as I think they’re going to be every month.

October – Intensity & Individuality

Beginning of the month: I feel like I need to ramp up my intensity. I’m already really intense as is, but I think I need to try to responsibly use it. Like the shadow – intensity is something that needs to be integrated, not shown off. I want to apply intensity to the prioritization that I’ve practiced last month. I’m hoping to make some real forward motion this month. As far as individuality, I feel like I’m good at marching to the beat of my own drum but I feel like I need to train it like being disagreeable. Not in the sense that I don’t have it and I need to develop it, but that I need to be able to use it with more finesse. I have no other way of describing what I mean at the moment – basically, I want my individuality to be something that I can call upon if needed, but not in a way that could potentially damage my reputation. Dealing with the people around me is tough right now and I honestly think everyone else could do a lot more in making this easier, but I can’t change them so I have to be able to trust and use my individuality properly. This month is going to be more of me trying to more accurately hone what I already have going for me. Like a teenage boy with his testosterone and animus energy, I need to learn how to control and use my intensity and individuality effectively and appropriately in ways that benefit myself and my future.

CM: I like the idea of integrating intensity in a way that allows me to use it when I need to. I feel like I’ve gotten better at that in the past few months.

End of the month: Intensity has been the name of the game for the last month. I feel like I’ve been pushing myself in so many different directions, but it’s been good. I took up running and have been pushing myself every time and I’m getting in shape faster than I expected. I’ve also been more sure of the choices I make. I can feel myself being more formidable which feels like what I was going for when it comes to intensity and individuality. The perfect union of these traits will give me formidableness in the face of the great unknown. I also feel more connected to myself – the choices I make are not bad but good and I feel myself questioning myself less too which I think is a function of my individuality developing further. I’ve been allowing myself to enjoy what makes me happy in the name of cultivating my individuality which makes me feel more connected to life. After all, the things I find interesting and enjoy are a function of my individuality. However, I do feel like I’ve been pushing really hard and I had a few breakdowns this month. I physically feel tired and I feel like I haven’t made as much progress as I planned, but I did make progress and most of it was in dimensions that I wasn’t planning, so that’s pretty cool.

CM: Formindableness = Intensity + Individuality. Worth noting and keeping for later because I feel like it worked. I struggled for a long time with believing my own choices and standing by what I believed, but I feel like intentionally developing those two traits gave me a great foundation to build upon.

November – Vulnerability & Exploration

Beginning of the month: As usual, I don’t want to do these themes, but I know that to get the holy grail I have to enter the forest that’s darkest to me. I’ve been reading a lot of books on trauma and I think it would be in my best interest to find ways to be comfortable with my vulnerability. I had a lot of vulnerable moments with Kyra last month and maybe if I leaned into them I could find peace in a new way. It’s going to be super hard, especially since my natural reaction is to not be vulnerable. I also want to explore more. I want to explore myself and the world around me. I feel like I’ve been so focused for so long and I haven’t had a chance to really see what else gets me going. I’ve been exploring a fair bit in the world of skills, but I want to take my exploration to new places internally and externally.

CM: It’s funny, I don’t review these entries until I write this blog post and I love how I felt like I haven’t given myself chance to explore, but I did just a few month prior. I supposed exploration is a constant I need to include in my life.

End of the month: This month I have allowed myself to be more vulnerable and I have given myself permission to explore. I’ve been engaging in small talk and asking people questions more as well as using their names. I’ve noticed that people have been more open to sharing information with me. It’s not anything big, just really subtle stuff. I’m sure they don’t even notice it and I’m only noticing because I do these monthly themes. I’ve also been able to explore my own feelings deeper. I’m more aware of my own feelings, which gives me an edge in understanding myself and my decision making. I’m able to create a distance between my emotions and my actions and use that space to make more intentional decisions be it about business, personal, or otherwise. Exploration has been fun too. I’ve let myself change up my YouTube habits and I’m watching stuff that more fun and less serious. I’ve been allowing my love for Hamilton run wild and that’s led me to explore what it’s like to be a play write and composer. I think it would be cool to make a Nietzsche play that’s as engaging as Hamilton. I’ve also let myself spend hella money on software so I can further my creative exploration. Final Cut Pro and the Philharmonik plugin are so cool and I can tell I will use them for years to come. I’ve also let myself play insane amounts of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I don’t normally play Assassin’s Creed games, but it’s been so fun! It’s a series I don’t play about a part of history I don’t know anything about. I wasn’t even really into history until this month. Hamilton and Valhalla have really opened my eyes to other worlds. Now I want to deepen my understanding of history and it’s so cool. I’ve also let myself go a little crazy with my workout clothes. It really is more fun to work out when you have nice clothes to do it in. Letting myself go a little wild for a month was good. Although I did spend a lot of money, I have to say I’ve been having a fun time.

CM: I feel like this was just yesterday and I’ve actually been worried that I may have been wrong in allowing myself to go crazy with the spending and the video games. Looking back on what I wrote, I can see that it’s worthwhile.

December – Organization & Sacrifice

Beginning of the Month: This month I want to get everything more organized. Starting with my website and online presence. I’ve been working so hard to get my ideas externalized, but whenever I encounter people, it’s impossible for me to share the ideas with them. It always comes down to me having to explain it – I guess that’s why I started writing in the first place. But now I want to turn it into something easy for people to digest and I believe that starts with me getting organized. I’m hoping that organizing my website, my production over the next year, and everything else is the missing puzzle piece I need to turn all of my hard work into something tangible. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but I feel like I haven’t really wanted to sacrifice for it so by making this month’s 2nd theme sacrifice I’m hoping I could nudge myself in the right direction. Also, sacrifice is always necessary for making the future better and I want my future to be better, so this month might have to come with a few sacrifices.

End of the Month: This month has been a wild ride and I’m so glad that I spent this time setting myself up. I’ve created new systems for everything and started using Notion. It’s been life-changing. I’ve created different dashboards for all the different parts of my life and it’s been helping me think of my tasks and my life in a whole new way. I feel like all the stuff that’s been floating around in my head now has a home and all the little files and notes everywhere can have a place to nest and grow. I lost sight of the bigger vision while drowning in the complexity of my life but now I see the potential in all the things I’ve been building and so much more. I feel like I haven’t been able to organize everything how I want, but that’s because I’m discovering how much complexity there really is to unpack. I’m definitely going to bring organization into my next month, but the sacrifice theme is going to have to go. In order to actually get myself to sit down and dive into the complexity of my life, I had to be okay with not releasing any content for a month (since that was where most of my extra energy was going). I was pretty sad looking at all my past work and knowing that I won’t have any work like this to reflect the times, but I will sacrifice the content of the now so I can produce more and higher quality stuff in the future. I’m hoping I’ve been making the right calls. This year was tough for a lot of people, but I’m happy with how I live my life and I feel like as long as I have structures in place for myself I will always be growing and getting better.

2019 Yearly Review: Birth of Tradition

“Time is the friend of the person who trains his mind to follow positive thought-habits and the enemy of the person who drifts into negative thought-habits.”

Napoleon Hill (Outwitting the Devil)

When last year was coming to a close, I had a terrible realization that I couldn’t remember anything that happened that year and I felt like life was slipping through my fingers. Every week moving faster than the last, and while I was in the grips of it all my days seemed to have amounted to nothing. I knew that this wasn’t possible because I was working really hard, dedicating myself to (what I believed to be) noble causes, and some things in my life were moving along in a generally positive direction, but it just didn’t feel like it.

I was tired of feeling stagnant, so I told myself in 2019 I had to track my life somehow. (I learned a lot about tracking this year and I outline it in my post on Tracking vs. Loss Aversion.) I wasn’t open to journaling or writing at the time, but I’ve discovered that writing is of my favorite ways to record myself and look back on later. In the early parts of the year, I tried to take pictures of something I was doing once a day or record a quick vlog, but those didn’t stick and I felt like it didn’t accurately captured what I was actually like.

I was really disheartened to think that one day I’ll be gone, and all that will be left of me are the things that I leave here. All that will be left of me would be those pictures to capture my day or that quick vlog.

That didn’t sit well with me at all.

I understand that entire civilizations have come and gone and most individuals are not remembered in time, but I want my existence to at least have a chance to impact others, even after I’m dead and gone. I thought about how much beauty and tragedy I can experience in a day, how I’ve learned so much throughout my time here, and I should try my damndest to share it. Not only life lessons and academic lessons, but lessons about the human spirit that can only be communicated through experiencing another individual. Every person I’ve come across has an undeniable uniqueness, and I’ve always believed that’s what makes people special. It was so terrible that my own unique individualism was being squashed and forgotten because I was too lazy, afraid, or [insert any relatively insignificant emotion here] to dedicate the energy and time required to preserve it. If I couldn’t even remember what I was doing in the past year, how could I expect to preserve my individuality over time?

With frustration, fear, and anger heavy in my heart, I went on to find some way to accurately capture who I am. I discovered that I could carve out a little piece of the internet and create a space that captures all the different sides of me, and if I dedicated the proper time and energy, then I could capture who I am in my entirety. So I ditched the “picture a day” crap and took my documenting more seriously. I created a plan to build an online city that expresses the different sides of Christopher Sagala Mukiibi. Each project I build isn’t a perfect representation of me, but it is a small part of me. The goal is my future and (hopefully) expansive body work will capture who I am in my entirety and no part of me will be left unsaid, so to speak.

To capture my nonverbal emotional states, I dedicated myself to building a musical district in my online city. This is starting off as my beat store and Sagala Productions, but I hope to nourish and build this to something more beautiful that I could imagine. I’m in the early stages of figuring out how to make beat making videos. I feel like my music district will be a little more substantial once that is written out.

To teach the beautiful ideas that help me make sense of the world, I dedicated myself to building an educational district in my online city. This is starting off as my blog, but it is also developing offline in my tutoring sessions and classes that I teach at the Temecula Tutor center. This blog is an opportunity for me to expand and refine ideas that will be further synthesized into my online courses and (hopefully) a book. This educational district will give students scaffolding to receive a quality education that actually helps them operate in the world from a system that isn’t designed to do that.

To capture the parts of me that are less understood by myself, I dedicated myself to building a talk show. I don’t really want to go into why a talk show is perfect for capturing the unknown within in this post but I plan to cover it sometime in the future. The show is in it’s early developments, but we have a few episodes shot and I can really see this building into something beautiful. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’m anticipating this to be one of the most accurate depictions of myself. I’m hoping in 2020, I’ll be able to drop some high quality entertainment and capture some priceless memories.

To ensure consistent improvement, I’ve dedicated myself to doing a Yearly Review every year. I tried a few different ways to track consistent improvement. I was looking for a method that was low pressure enough to keep me going but was still effective. It took a few months but I think I’ve found a way that sticks. (We’ll see though.)

So it’s pretty simple, every month I pick two of my weaknesses that I will try to get at least 1% better by the end of the month. I keep the bar low so I will actually do it, but I always pick the things that I really really really really really really do not want to focus on.

I write the themes on the whiteboard in my room, because I look at it all the time so I’m constantly reminded of my weaknesses and that it’s my job this month to get better at them. I’ve found that as long as I’m trying to get better and I know what I’m trying to improve, I actually get better! What a concept.

So this year, I started my themes may and june but I didn’t record anything from those months and I can’t remember what I was working on and how I felt about it but I did notice an improvement. So in July I started writing it down in my note app so I can at least keep track of something.

I would also keep a to-do list written above my themes and if I felt proud of myself that day then I would take a picture of the list and save it into my themes. As the year went on, I started taking more and more pictures of the lists. It’s crazy to think that there were a few months this year when I only felt proud of myself less than 5 days out of the month but it’s also nice to know that there were some months when I felt proud of myself almost every day.

As the months went on, I rediscovered the value of writing more and taking less pictures, but I never sat down to thoroughly write my thoughts out so I’m going to give myself the opportunity to do that now with this review. The memories won’t be perfect, but they’ll do. I’ll put what I initial wrote down in my notes app in italics and my elaborated thoughts will come afterwards.

July: Continuous Humility & Patience

“at the beginning of the month I found it scary to take on these themes. I knew they were weaknesses.

“I feel way more humble and patient. So much so that I want to try this every month to see if I can overcome more miraculous things. I’ve accomplished so much this month. This is a fun little thing to do. And there’s no stakes”

CM: Like I said, I didn’t take much time to elaborate so this is all I wrote. I knew that I had an arrogance issue and I was quite impatient. It was annoying confronting this, but this month was important. By the end of the month, I was ecstatic to look at the progress I was making. I was learning things quicker and producing things faster. I knew that it was in direct correlation to my humility and patience. Arrogance and impatience are the death of progress and this little experiment helped me see that. It really didn’t cost me anything, I felt like I was getting better, and I actually was getting better. Why not try it again?

August: Discipline & Clarity

“I feel like my life lacks discipline and I have a hard time believing that I am sane so clarity seems to be the antidote for that.”

“one week in and it’s a lot less tough to focus on the theme. I’m working out more. I’m getting so much done. I’m more honest too. I’m a little more tired, but I feel like a better man for it.”

“end of the month: I’m so happy I did this. I am more disciplined and I rarely think im crazy anymore. I’ve been working out more consistently and I’ve noticed changes in my body. I’m great at getting myself to start things now. I’ve been more honest and clear with my writing and speech. I accomplished so much this month and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen over the next few months. I honestly think this is a great way for me to get over any flaws I have or enhance any ability I want. I’m going to give it another try for September.”

CM: Turns out my experiment was a success and the benefits far exceeded the costs and/or expectations. I started working on my creativity section of my body of work, recording what my creative process is like. I also completed 13 beats that month! I can barely believe that now. I started posting on my website and I was simultaneously confronting multiple weaknesses and actually making something beautiful out of it. This month the first episode of So to Speak was filmed. I don’t think that episode will ever be released, but we’ll see. The future is full of unexpected events.

September: Completion & Order

“I have a hard time finishing things and I’m constantly feeling out of control. I want to be able to see my impact in the universe. I will reach out and move things. No longer will I sit back. I will finish my plans, hopefully. I’ve developed two months as a success spiral. I want to see how long this will last and if it can overcome these things.”

“first week in: I’m seeing all the things I never finish. I’m hyper aware of all the new projects that I’m dying to start. I’m going to try to just write those ideas down – and attend to them when I finished what I’m set out to do.”

“Last week: I did slightly better with completion and order than I was expecting, but I don’t feel like I had the same level of success as I did with my other months. So I’m going to keep completion as the theme for next month but I’m changing order. I started Thus Spake Zarathustra and Nietzsche says we need to have much chaos within us to give birth to a dancing star.

CM: I remember this month. It was painful to notice how often I want to start new ideas and leave all my old ones unfinished. I told myself, I had to finish whatever projects I was working on this month before I could start a new one. I dropped this idea as soon as the month was over because I figured that as long as I’m starting to create the truly great projects will be the ones that get completed and not the ones that are forced. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, it’s just a belief I’m trying out right now. This month I injected a lot of order into my life and rejecting the chaotic side of me made it difficult to create. There is definitely a balance to be found between chaos and order. This month consisted of a lot of cleaning, physical and digital. Not the most exciting stuff, but I’m very happy to know that I’ve dedicated at least 1/12 of this year to entropy management.

October: Completion & Consistency

“2nd week in: I feel a lot better about my ability to complete and be consistent. I’m feeling like I have more control over what’s happening. Finishing things and not finishing things has become more of a choice rather than a reflection of my circumstances “

“October 17th: I feel like I understand my body more with my consistent workouts. Aries is happier too. He loves the morning walks and I think he’s losing weight. I’ve been trying really hard to complete my tasks each day. I can’t manage that, but I am finishing a lot more than I usually do. What gets measured gets improved is such an accurate statement.”

“21st: It feels real fucking good to check off everything today. I finally feel like completion and consistency are completely mine. What gets measured gets managed. What gets managed gets improved. Aries is definitely losing weight. And it feels good being in control of whatever I choose. It’s a little humbling to see how much that really is, but knowing my limits is good.”

“Last day: I feel like I’ve gotten a good hold on completion and consistency, but I feel like I’ve lost hold of some of the other themes I’ve been practicing. Specifically patience. It’s almost like I’m only able to have a grip on a few of these abilities at a time. Anyways this month has been wildly productive. I feel healthier, and so is Aries and I’m pretty confident in myself. It’s all those success spirals 😁”

CM: This month was critical for my development, or at least seems so when I look back on these thoughts. I feel like my relationship with completion has changed since this month. I learned that completing things is a choice, and if I pay enough attention, there’s a specific moment when I decide to finish a project or not. All I have to do is be honest with myself and decide to finish. Or not. The confronting part is knowing that this capacity for completion is a decision that I make if I’m paying attention. I remember being really consistent this month. I was constantly working out and finishing tasks on my white board. I feel like I truly learned how much I could accomplish in a day. I learned where my cognitive load caps out and how much cognitive load each task takes. It was humbling to learn that I can’t get as much done in a day as I’d like, but at least I get stuff done at all! 70% there is better than 0%. After reading these thoughts, it looks like completion and consistency are the recipe for confidence and feeling awesome! I learned that during October, but somewhere between then and now I’ve forgotten it. It’s cool reflecting and rediscovering lessons that were so crucial to my peace of mind.

November: Patience & Focus

“1st Day: I’m upset that I’ve lost proficiency, so to speak, in patience. And the past few days I’ve been unfocused so let’s run it! As usual I’m pretty intimidated by these themes but I’m not as intimidated as usual.”

“Book Goal for the year!! 11/11!! Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to see all the books im going to read next year. Picking up reading was easily one of the best choices I have ever made. All the information in each of these books changed my life for the better in ways I could never have even imagined.”

“11/12 – I felt like was going crazy last week because nothing was going right and everything seemed so much more difficult than it needed to be, but now I see that it was me rejecting the themes for this month. I was not patient and I was not focused but now that I’ve realized that, I just kept my head down, focused, and now things are starting to work out. Patience is really hard for me to get under control.”

“11/20 – it’s like I’m just believing that staying focused helps me be patient but I feel like I’m slightly better at focusing. Not as good as my MCAT study days (I want to beat my old record 3hr attention span with 1.5 hr no breaks), right now I break at around 1 hour. Patience is interesting though. I’m finally able to teach this class next semester even though I pictured being done with the whole thing within 8 months. It’s a year and a half and it lives. It’s much better to take my time and slow cook it. Everyone I presented to was impressed with it. I just need to be patient. Tonight was proof that patience is key. I just need to stay focused as I have been.”

“End of November – i feel like I’m slightly more patient but I feel as if my focus isn’t as high as it could be. At the beginning of the month, I was only able to sit and work for like an hour but I’ve gotten up to about an hour and a half It’s an improvement but I feel like the work im doing requires the artist to be able to focus on it for long periods of time. Once I get my attention span up, I’ll make my work better.”

CM: This month I noticed that my patience for everything was running thin, so I decided to make it a theme again. I was hesitant at first, but I figured I’m never going to perfect this skill within a month so I’ll repeat it as many times as necessary. Plus when I start adding in more rules, things get too complicated. And when things get more complicated, friction comes and I stop doing things. Friction is probably my number 1 worst enemy. I also reached my book goal for the year in this month. I read 20 books, some of which are on my Must Read Book List. This was the first year I took reading seriously, and it was easily one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. The knowledge I’ve acquired from these books has given me a new way of looking at the world and experiencing life. Reading is one of those things that can’t be done too much. I was able to compare my attention span between now and when I used to be a pre-med study fiend. I’ve lost some skill, partly due to lack of practice, but I’ve been trying to get back on the long-term concentration horse. It’s been getting slightly better, but I’m nowhere near where I used to be. This was the month I showed my course to prospective parents and students and it was a hit! People loved what I had to say and couldn’t wait to sign up in the spring. We’ll see how much of that will hold into the new year, but it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are receptive to my work. It helped offset my incessant delusion that what I’m doing isn’t worthwhile. It just took way longer than I expected, so I guess it’s fitting that I had that experience during my “patience” month. My patience and focus got a little better by the end of the month, and it’s something I try to improve on every day. At the moment, I don’t really see any noticeable gains, but I know in a few months or weeks I’ll notice a difference in my focus.

December: Integrity & Vulnerability 

“12/1 – fuck these themes lol integrity is something I know I need to work on for myself. It’ll make my experience of my life easier to handle. Vulnerability is necessary for my art to really find a place in the world. I keep holding things back bc I don’t want to be vulnerable and my art, my business, and my productivity is suffering because of it”

“End of December – I didn’t write as much this semester because my bargaining ass knew I was writing this blog post and it “counts” for the month of December, but as I write this I realize how purely idiotic that was. I spent a huge portion of the month working on bringing Integrity back into my life. I came across opposition of all kinds. External, internal, physical, psychological, you name it. I was able to bring back integrity to my room, but as far as much schedules, routines, and other aspects of my life, my integrity still isn’t whole. I probably hit 70% of my integrity goals this month so it’s very likely that I’ll start 2020 off with integrity as a theme again. As for vulnerability, I made an effort to show more positive emotion towards people and showing the work I’ve created despite my fear of judgement and rejection. I’ve been resistant towards these themes pretty much the whole month, but I do think I’ve gotten at least 1% better. I know I’ll need to do this theme again too.”

CM: I really liked reflecting over this year. I feel like I understood what I was doing a little bit better and I’m actually excited to bring just as much, if not more, energy and attention into 2020. I aim to expand on the foundation I’ve built, and hopefully reach out to more people. This was the year I finally feel like I have a grip on the world around me, how it works, and how I am going to navigate in it and with that knowledge came a flurry of creative projects designed to express my multidimensional existence. I used this year to learn about myself and birth new traditions that hopefully fit into something bigger and worthwhile to other people. I’m excited for the story to continue. I know I have more work cut out for me than ever before, but it’s exciting work that I find useful and meaningful. Cheers 🍻to a tough, challenging, but rewarding 2019 and more of the same in 2020.

If you made it down here thanks for reading this! I know I don’t usually post these kinds of things but the reflection is important and I figured I might as well share it since the theme for this month is Vulnerability.