I know, I know––we’re already 1 month into the new year. But the 2015–2016 baton pass wouldn’t feel complete without a debrief on the past year. I wrote a severely detailed reflection on 2015 for myself, but I’ve summarized it in 4 big themes for you below.

Theme #1: Education

It sounds funny to say it, but education is mostly what I do know. Between the writing, speaking, and especially my work at Escape, I’ve somehow transitioned into a designer and deliverer of adult education.

Giving a talk at Shoreditch House in London. Tweet and photo by @MariellaNOA.
Giving a talk at Shoreditch House in London. Tweet and photo by @MariellaNOA.

This realization snuck up on me. Is this where it’s been heading all along? Starting GiveLiveExplore taught me how to turn experience and knowledge inside-out and share with you and anyone else who was reading. The open and honest sharing zig-zagged me into a job with Escape. In coming to London to help build the Escape School, education has become a full-time endeavour. Our Tribes programs have struck a serious chord and set Escape as a business on an exciting new trajectory.

The most mind-boggling part? I fantasized about a school like this during my wandering days of 2012 (more on this in A Past Vision Come True: A Modern School for Adults).

#2. Commitment

2015 was an year of unprecedented commitment for me. Work. Physical location. Even romantically. I’ve committed myself to things like I haven’t since I started this blog. This is a bit frightening for a guy with itchy feet who gets his kicks on the freedom and spontaneity of the road.

On the flip side, commitment has allowed me to access new experiences and pockets of myself I couldn’t remaining non-committal. More on this in point #4.

#3. Nature

In Tales of Iceland Steve wrote of me:

“There is a rock in Skagastrond that is still blushing from the attention Trin gave it.”

This would turn out to be more than just a throwaway line in our raunchy travelogue. Although I didn’t realize it then, nature began tugging at me from the first week I started this blog in 2012. 2015 saw me continue to develop a new, spiritual-like appreciation for the natural world. The book Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin spoke to me in a way that something hasn’t since Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth (which also touches on nature’s role in human maturity and development).

This year found me sleeping solo under the stars in the English countryside, taking lessons from Norwegian woods, and literally speaking to the wind (and it speaking back). It feels a little odd. But in a good way. A quick look at my Instagram stream and it’s obvious: I’m building a new kind of relationship with nature.

Clockwise from top-left: Black Forest, Germany; Microadventure northeast of London; View of the Atlantic from Reyjkavík, Iceland; Norwegian forest; selfie on a run outside Otranto, Puglia, Italy; Seven Sisters Park, Sussex, England.
Clockwise from top-left: Black Forest, Germany; Microadventure northeast of London; View of the Atlantic from Reyjkavík, Iceland; Norwegian forest; selfie on a run outside Otranto, Puglia, Italy; Seven Sisters Park, Sussex, England.

#4. The End of Wandering (kind of)

This is related to point #2 Commitment, but with a different flavor. 2015 saw me not only hang up my nomadic boots in favor of deeper commitment, but it signified an end to an era of wandering of the existential kind. The most obvious difference is in the questions I’m asking myself.

When I started this blog, the questions hovering above me were the likes of: Who am I? Why am I here? If not this, then what?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fine-tuning my answers to these and may forever be. But over the past year I’ve felt an increasing pull to harness the gifts I’ve learned I possess and go deeper into the stuff I’ve uncovered about my potential: the writing, speaking, learning, analyzing, teaching, philosophizing, connecting, caring. Being authentic. Being curious, interested, observant. Inspiring change. Helping people in periods of transitions. Communicating complex but universally human feelings and topics. Bringing the world a little bit closer together through some nitty gritty storytelling and other methods mentioned above.

In 2015, I toned-down my wandering in order to get better at the stuff I was already doing.

Well, kind of. I’m still exploring new things like acting and movies (Spectre!), but I like to think it falls in the same vein of storytelling.

Of course, this welcomes in a whole new bunch of questions: how can I get really fucking good at this stuff? How can I take Steve Martin’s career advice and “be so good they can’t ignore you”? How can I, in Steven Pressfield’s words, “Turn Pro”?

Which brings us to 2016.

Things I want to be true in 2016

My biggest beef with 2015 Matt is I didn’t set strong intentions or goals for myself or GiveLiveExplore. This made reviewing 2015 difficult. My aim for 2016 is to double down on my strengths, skills and gifts I’ve uncovered and get better at wielding them in the world.

The tricky part about making statements like these public is that I risk falling short, either from being too ambitious or from life situations changing my course, and then beating myself up for everything I don’t accomplish. So I share the below with this in mind, and am asking in advance for your and my own forgiveness when I don’t hit 100%. Although I do hope to get pretty damn close.

I also share these statements with you in the spirit of being authentic and useful. Not to say “hey look how cool and ambitious I am!” but rather to document my own becoming and say “hey I’m figuring this stuff out, just like you.”

Below are some personal and professional statements I want to be true by the end of 2016. (I’ve put in parenthesis any specific things I could use your help with. If you can/want to help, just respond to this email.)

Writing: Recommit to myself and my writing ambitions.

  1. I’ve written the full story of my 2012 “unplanned pilgrimage.”
  2. I’ve written the first draft of “A Guide to Travelling Deliberately: A practical philosophy for using your travels as a vehicle for self-discovery, growth, and personal pilgrimage.” (Does this topic interest you? What about it and why?)
  3. I’ve written a screenplay and submitted a treatment.
  4. I’ve written daily; published weekly. (How often do you want to hear from me?)

Work (Escape): Improve and grow our products and impact.

  1. We have successfully designed and implemented a scalable and repeatable Escape Tribe curriculum, ready for May Tribes.
  2. I’ve launched a valuable and impactful new product for the global community.
  3. I’ve led and facilitated a destination Escape experience (Anyone want to Escape to the “garden of Italy” with me?)

Work (GiveLiveExplore): Show up more often, grow my offering and reach.

  1. I have created a book or other product available for readers.
  2. I have two new paying clients and/or income generating projects.
  3. I’ve published to a constant drum beat: blog posts and newsletters.
  4. I’ve experimented with video on the blog.

Film/Movies/Video: Keep exploring film, create more.

  1. I’ve acted in at least 3 feature films. (I’m signed up with 1 agency, but if anyone has any connects…)
  2. I’ve taken an acting class to see if I want to take it further.
  3. I’ve acted in at least 1 feature film with a speaking role.
  4. I’ve created 4 short videos/films. (One idea i’m sitting on is making a documentary about the hundreds of postcard I’ve sent to you all, maybe even visiting some of you in person…thoughts?)

Speaking: Get better at speaking, more paid gigs.

  1. I’ve delivered at least 3 paid / high profile speaking gigs internationally. (Lemme know if you want me to speak at your event!)
  2. I’ve delivered at least 25 talks or workshops.
  3. At least 10 of those talks have been outside of the Escape School.

Health: Stay active, incorporate fitness into travel.

  1. I’ve run another half marathon.
  2. I’ve run at least 2 destination races. (Uganda anyone?)
  3. I’ve started playing a team sport like basketball, etc.

Travel: Keep exploring, make travel a priority.

  1. I’ve visited 5 new countries and 1 new continent.
  2. I’ve spent 1 long weekend (3-5 days) each month somewhere.
  3. I have an EU ID card and Greek passport.
  4. I’ve gone on a long, multi-week adventure/trek.

Learning: Keep learning, keep growing.

  1. I’ve read 24+ books.
  2. I’ve tried 3 new things/experiences I’ve never done before. (Ideas?)
  3. I’ve interviewed at least 12 role models/heroes.
  4. I’ve completed an intensive writing course to improve my craft. (I’m thinking of the Paris Writing Workshop. Have any other ideas?)

Relationships: Stay in touch, stay accountable, reach out to big friends.

  1. I’ve joined a monthly mutual improvement group for writing/business goals.
  2. I’ve reached out to at least 10 new heroes/mentors/big friends.
  3. I’ve had monthly calls/coaching sessions with dad.
  4. I’ve reached out to family every week, stayed better in touch.

Spiritual: Ask for help from others, continue to grow.

  1. I’ve participated in the Millennial Quest and went on a vision quest.
  2. I’ve taken a solitude weekend each quarter.
  3. I’ve established a relationship with a coach/elder.
  4. I’ve started a new daily/weekly meditation habit.

Can you help with any of these? Would love to chat! Email me Matt at GiveLiveExplore.com.

What statements do you want to be true in 2016?

If you haven’t set goals or intentions for 2016 yet, it’s not too late to correct course.

A lot can happen in 328 days…

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