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2011 Annual Review: My 12 Biggest Adventures Of The Year

With 2012 looming just off in the distance, I’ve been looking back at pictures, Facebook posts, blog posts, Google Calendar reminders, and my Tripit.com profile to look back at all that’s happened in the past year. 2011 was a year of great change for me, most of it awesome, some of it difficult. Here are a dozen of my biggest adventures from 2011.

1. Olympic Skeleton Tryouts in Lake Placid

In February, I drove up to Lake Placid with my buddy Joe and stayed at the Olympic Training Center for a week to try out for the Olympic Skeleton team. Needless to say, it was pretty awesome.

2. I Turned 30

Remember how slow time went when you were a kid? I have this theory that everything until you graduate high school moves at the speed of dirt. Then the minute you graduate high school everything moves past you in the blink of an eye. In April I woke up one morning, looked at myself in the mirror and a 30 year old man was staring back at me.

When I was a younger man I didn’t plan on making it to my thirties. I’m sure glad that I did though. At 30 I feel healthier and happier than ever.

3. I Finished a Tough Mudder Race

I tried my first Tough Mudder in May this year at Mt. Snow, Vermont. I made it all of 8 miles up and down ski slopes until my body literally stopping working. Six months later I finished the Tri-State Tough Mudder in Englishtown, NJ. It was physically one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.

4. I Attended The World Domination Summit

I’ve been following Chris Guillebeau for some time now and he’s one of the few bloggers out there that really resonates with me on so many levels. When I saw his announcement for a conference of over 500 totally remarkable people, I knew I had to be there. The conference blew away all expectations that I had coming in and my life hasn’t been the same ever since.

5. I Launched My Blog

For years I’ve had friends telling me I should write a book or a blog. After attending WDS, I knew I had to make that first step and commit to action. So in July I launched Adventures in Personal Development and shortly after I posted The List Of Adventure.

It still a work in progress and I really have no idea what I’m doing yet, but since I’ve launched in July I’ve had 1882 unique visitors from 57 countries visit the site. Most of those visitors are probably my friends and their friends, but at least it’s something. And doing something and failing is always better than doing nothing at all.

6. David and I Went On The Momstoski Road Trip

On the night before the first day of the World Domination Summit my mom passed away suddenly in her sleep. Of all the places that I could have been, that was the place to be. Surrounded by the love and energy of 500 superheroes helped not only get me through the weekend, but kept me on the positive, purposeful, and powerful path that I’ve been on for the last couple of years.

Wanting to do something epic to celebrate her life and also wanting to do something for my little brother David, I planned a 4100 mile road trip across North America to spread my mother’s ashes. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. I could die today and still be content with my life after taking that trip.

7. I Went Skydiving And Bungee Jumping In The Same Weekend

The day before the World Domination Summit, a group of 41 of us met up to go skydiving. Big props to Joel Runyon at Impossible HQ for putting it together.

As if I hadn’t already had enough excitement for the weekend, the day after WDS a smaller group of us went bungee jumping.

Both were awesome, but for different reasons. Skydiving was a little more intense and the free fall went on for what felt like several minutes. Bungee jumping was a little scarier though as you have to initiate the jump all by yourself. The one thing that they had in common though was the incredible moment of peace after the jump.

When the parachute opened during my skydive, I found myself floating through the air with breathtaking views of Portland, the Willamette Valley and the Oregon and Washington mountains. After the bungee jump I found myself floating through a beautiful forest overlooking a sparkling river. The best way I can describe the feeling is “totally 100% alive and thankful for second of it.” I’ll do both again in the future.

8. I Pretended I Was In Grad School Again

An MBA is essentially a high priced networking group. You aren’t going for the education, you’re going to build relationships with people who will be doing great things with their lives in the near future. I was lucky to go to a program that not only stressed academic achievement, but building a community.

This year I had the chance to reconnect with many of my friends from Ohio State all over the country. Even though it’s been almost 18 months since we graduated, every time we got back together it was like we were back in school again. From the MBA Poker Tournament in Vegas, Memorial Day Weekend in Put-In-Bay, and an amazing wedding in October, it was like time had never passed. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again in 2012 in various locations all over the world.

9. I Explored The Best City In The World

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, we didn’t have a lot of choices for nearby weekend getaways. Phoenix was a two hour drive, San Diego was a six hour drive, Las Vegas was a seven hour drive, and Los Angeles was an eight hour drive. And that was about it.

Living here in New Jersey for the past 18 months, I live four hours from Washington DC in the south and four hours from Boston in the north and even closer to everything in between. There is a so much to do on the East Coast and it’s all so easily accessible. Best of all, I live an hour outside of New York City by car and 90 minutes by train or bus.

Many weekends this year were spent eating, drinking, dancing, playing, walking, and laughing with friends in NYC. Some of the best weekends I had were when I didn’t have any plans and just went in with a backpack, a camera and an open mind. New York never disappoints. Even when you’re homeless.

10. I Traveled… A Lot

After going through my TripIt.com profile and also taking into consideration the nights that I CouchSurfed with friends, I estimate that I spent around 100-120 days on the road this year.  It wasn’t always in the nicest accommodations, but at least I was out of my apartment interacting with the real world. Next year I’ll hopefully be on the road a good 200-250 days.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St Augustine

11. I Became Debt Free

After embracing minimalism over the course of the past couple years, I now have more time and money than ever. I can count the number of articles of clothing I purchased in 2011 on one hand and I only went out to eat for special occasions or when I was traveling. Taking a quality over quantity mentality, I stopped spending money on things unless I absolutely needed it and if it was of superior quality. With a new approach to spending I obliterated my student loans from grad school and aside from the mortgage on my rental home and a 0% APR loan on my car, I’m totally debt free.

12. I Became A Free Agent

To make a long story short, my current employer and I are going our separate ways very shortly. It has been a difficult decision, but one that I’m sure is the right one at this time in my life.

Life is short. Really short. Next year I’m only going to spend time on things that totally 100% align to who I am as a person. With that said, I’m thrilled at the opportunities that 2012 has in store.

Looking back, it was a pretty awesome year. In the past around this time, I would sit down and try and come up with goals for the upcoming year. I’d typically have a dozen or so goals and by the end of the year only a couple of them would actually come to fruition. This year I’m keeping things simple.

My goals for 2012 are:

  1. Do epic shit
  2. Create things that matter
  3. Give and love freely

2011 was a year of great change. 2012 will be a year of even greater change, but it will be on my terms. And I can’t wait to get started.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year and an epic 2012.

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