2020 has been one hell of a year, right? Thankfully, no matter how much of a shit show things may be, there’s always a chance to learn something. In this article we polish up the diamonds from the chunks of coal Santa left in our collective stockings.
Jay’s 10 Things I learned in 2020
1. It’s Much Easier To KEEP Doing Something Than To START Doing Something
At the beginning of the year I was in GREAT shape. After running two marathons in 2019, I started 2020 by completing a Sprint-distance triathlon in February and a half-Ironman in the beginning of March. I was mentally and physically prepared to complete my first full-Ironman triathlon in May 2020.
Everything was looking golden…then Covid hit. The gyms closed, along with all the trails in San Diego, my road-bike course, the pools, the Pacific Ocean (seriously) and then all the Ironman races for 2020. Sonofabitch.
I went from training 15+ hours a week to training about 3 hours a week. I could have worked harder to stay in shape but my motivation was all gone (On the plus side I DID fall in love with Whiskey…See #2 on my list). When Ironman finally contacted me in September and said my race would be rescheduled to 2021, I was excited…but I was also VERY out of shape. And damn it’s been hard to get it back. I’ve been working my ass off for the last two months and to be honest I still have a long ways to go.
Lesson: Once you’ve earned something, make sure you do the work to maintain it. It’s surprisingly easy to lose what you’ve worked very hard to accomplish.
2. There’s Always a Good Excuse for Not Doing Things
This year my personal one was booze. In addition to my first love of San Diego IPAs, during quarantine I also rediscovered my love for whiskey. Actually, all the whiskeys. Bulleit Rye. Macallan. Glenlivet. Buffalo Trace. Jack Daniels. Seagrams. Evan Williams. Black Velvet.
MacGregor (Don’t drink this). The list goes on.
So much time stuck at home, so much booze drunk at home.
Now I’m never going to say alcohol is bad but I will say the amount I did drink significantly impacted my ambition and productivity. If you want an excuse not to do something, being hungover is a really good one. But honestly there’s always an excuse not to do something. Whether it’s weed, video games, your wife/gf, your kids, work projects, home projects, your bad back, your parents, etc, etc, there’s always a legitimate sounding reason to not get your shit done.
As much as I love booze, I know if I had drank less I would have accomplished a LOT more in 2020.
Lesson: If you want an excuse not to do something, you’ll find it.
3. If You Don’t EVOLVE You Will DEVOLVE
During the course of the year I transitioned from a full-time massage therapist to full-time couch potato. Although I had many great hopes to evolve in 2020 (add a bunch of muscle, travel a lot, meditate regularly, stay in Ironman shape), instead I found myself watching all 327 episodes of Supernatural, playing over 150 hours of Kingdom Hearts games and generally making a permanent Jathan-shaped-ass-print on my couch.
It took me over 2 months of quarantine until I seriously committed to finishing our WASM books. I did enjoy the hell out of my time off but I don’t think I’ve ever been less productive.
Lesson: The Law of Entropy is real, y’all. There’s no such thing as status-quo. You’re either GROWING or you’re DECAYING.
4. Always Have One (And Only One) Scary, Badass Goal You’re Working Towards.
My badass goal for 2020 was finishing our excellent WASM books. If you haven’t written a book before, you should do it. Writing a book is fucking hard. It’s also THE best exercise in self-discipline I’ve ever done. When you write a book you’ll learn a lot of things about yourself you didn’t know. Not all of them are particularly positive, either, which is the reason why you need to do it.
Badass goals force you to become stronger. Tougher. Better. As Albert Einstein said: “A new type of thinking is essential for a man to survive and move to higher levels.”
Lesson: Whatever you decide to do, commit to one badass goal and make it happen. You will have moments where you will hate the pain of the work, but you will never regret the excellence you have achieved.
5. You Need S.M.A.R.T. Goals To Accomplish Any Big Goal
These are the five qualities that transform a “dream” into a “goal.”
Before I started making concrete deadlines on my writing, I made slow and vague progress. After I started setting dates where I HAD to finish certain chapters, both the quality of my content and the speed of my production improved dramatically.
Lesson: The difference between a “dream” and a “goal” is one has a deadline and the other doesn’t. A goal with a deadline can be completed. A dream without a deadline never will.
6. Vacations Are WAY More Valuable Than I Realized
Before Covid I used to take about one week off per year. I’d take a few long weekends scattered throughout the year and then roughly one week away from work. I felt a fair amount of pressure and stress throughout the year but I knew everyone had stress and it just was what it was.
This year because of Covid I was able to take over a month off to travel with family, go camping and backpacking, read, watch a shit-ton of television and generally slow down my pace of life…and I must say it made a big difference in my mental health. I was happier, less stressed, more available to listen and connect to people, more curious and more creative.
I was surprised how much taking a break from work can help you reset your thinking and it really was a game-changer for me. I’m going to start taking major breaks from work every quarter from now on.
Lesson: Take time off work regularly in order to boost your quality of life – and quality of work.
7. Go Camping Regularly. If You Can Go Backpacking, Even Better.
Because of Covid I got a chance to spend several weeks camping and backpacking this year and I have to say it changed me. I truly believe all men need to spend time in nature in order to be complete as mental, physical and spiritual beings.
In case you think I’m going all crunchy vegan tree-hugger on you, the three most famous spiritual men of all time are also famous for their connection to nature. Before he began his ministry, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness. Buddha sat under a tree for weeks until he received enlightenment. And Muhammad was meditating in his usual cave in Mount Hira when Gabriel spoke to him.
Spending time in the great outdoors allows you to experience something raw and wild that you can’t get anywhere else.
Lesson: Whether you’re a monk on a mountaintop or simply taking regular weekend camping getaways, men are more balanced and fulfilled when they consistently spend time in nature.
8. Women Are a Great ADDITION To Your Life…But If They ARE Your Life, You’re Fucked
Ever since I was a young man I made a promise to myself that I would never live with a woman until we got married. This year because of the quarantine I ended up de facto living with a girlfriend. I was at her place all the time. HER bed became OUR bed. HER kitchen/bathroom/living room became OUR kitchen/bathroom/living room.
I wasn’t intending to do this, it just happened as a result of circumstances. And, also as a result of circumstances, her life quickly became my life. Her priorities became my priorities. Her troubles my troubles.
Things went downhill quickly.
The reason I made my rule for myself years ago is because living together is a massive commitment, second only to marriage. I don’t believe in making commitments unless and until I intend to see them through. Covid made me think things were different. Everything was different in this “new normal,” right?
No, it wasn’t. And it isn’t. Serious commitment is still serious commitment and compatibility still taking a lot of work to sort through.
Lesson: Follow your heart and your principles, no matter what strange circumstances may come or go.
9. Don’t Watch Modern News
After about two months of following Covid Kills Everyone, Black Lives Matter, Cops are Evil, Trump vs Biden, Trump vs Truth, Biden vs Russian Conspiracy, etc, etc, I soon started to realize two things: 1) I was angry almost every time I watched a news story, and 2) I literally couldn’t stop watching news stories.
Modern news (aka 95% of mainstream media) is designed to be addictive, horrifying and to push all your buttons. Be warned: The news that you see on TV and in most print media will not only infuriate you, it will become more addictive than crack cocaine and just as dangerous. I’ve never felt better than when I finally cut my addiction to daily news media.
If you want to invest your emotions in something that WILL make a difference, research something you CAN control. Local government. Charities. Schools. Community works programs.
If you feel strongly about being informed, spend time reading print or online news stories from multiple biases, including Conservative, Centrist, Liberal and from other countries.
Lesson: Don’t trust the news until you’ve researched the entire story from multiple outlets…and even then you’re probably still better off just ignoring all the talking heads and helping out at a local charity.
10. Consciously Control Your Social Media Feed
This year was the most vindictive, vituperative and violent year on social media in history. I’ve never seen so many people send so much hate out into the world. And the kicker is that almost all of them thought they were hating for the right reasons.
Superior Men have no time for this kind of bullshit. It’s our job to bring good things into the world. We need to celebrate people, families, possibilities and positivity. Tearing other people down is bad for every single member of society.
This year I curated my social media feed. I made sure to consciously add good, compassionate, positive people. I also went through and eliminated all the drama hungry emotional vampires.
You don’t need “likes” and “comments.” You need real friends that love and care about you and are committed to making the world a better place.
Lesson: Tim Ferriss said it best: “You are the average of the five people you associate with most.” Choose wisely.
Matt’s 10 Lessons from 2020
11. Editing a Book Is HARD and Takes Forever
This year Jay and I finished writing, editing, and publishing three books! I have to say that was no easy task, but editing was by far the most tedious process. We had many lengthy arguments over the placement of a couple of words. Overall it ended up with a better product for all of you to read. Shameless plug alert, you should check out our books here and you can even read a free sample at our WASM bookstore.
12. Embrace Change
It’s safe to say that 2020 was a dumpster fire of change. From mandatory lockdowns to being told you aren’t an “essential” worker, to wearing masks; 2020 was a year of change. This year was one of the best examples in recent memory of significant change. You can either let the change control you, be bothered by it and let it consume you, or embrace it and move on. None of us really enjoyed many of the changes in 2020, but those of us who remained successful embraced the change and pivoted towards the future.
13. Think for Yourself, Question Authority
This has to be one of my favorite lyrics ever. From Tool’s Third Eye intro…
Think for yourself
Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos.
It has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality.
To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused, vulnerability to inform yourself.
Think for yourself.
Winston Churchill stated “Never let a good crisis go to waste” and that was certainly true this year. Various political leaders with the “best interests of the people” have attempted to obtain new power and strip rights away from you. Any time a political leader acts in a crisis you must pay attention.
Think for yourself. Question Authority.
14. I Learned a Lot About the 1918 Spanish Flu
And pandemics in general. Did you know there was a flu pandemic in 1968 and 1969? But I bet you’ve heard of the 1918 Spanish Flu. Cliff Notes version, with the first outbreak in March 1918 in Kansas, in October of 1918 alone about 200,000 Americans died. All told, there were about 675,000 deaths in the US and 50 million worldwide. About 1/3 of the entire human population contracted the disease. If you really want to geek out on it, check out this write up by the CDC.
15. Be the Leader, Your Family Will Follow
This is a reoccurring theme here at Wearesuperiormen.com, and that is, be the leader, she will follow. This goes the same for your family. Since 2020 had many turbulent and unsure times, being the solid rock for your family has tremendous upside.
16. How Different People Reacted To the Pandemic
I was absolutely floored by how different people who I greatly respect behaved during the pandemic this year. Now I do want to acknowledge that COVID-19 is a real and actual disease, no I’m not one who believes it’s a government conspiracy. I believe that you need to ascertain the risk for yourself and your situation and balance that with your mental wellbeing. Don’t be a complete shut in, and conversely don’t walk around without a mask thinking its no big deal.
17. Big Brother Is Not There To Protect You
If you don’t know what I mean by Big Brother, or where that comes from, read the novel 1984, or at the very least listen to our bookcast on 1984. The government is not there to “protect” you. If anything the government is there to get bigger and take more and more of your liberty until you are a subject and not a citizen. According to the CATO Institute, Personal Freedom is on the decline worldwide in 2020.
18. The Electoral System Is Very Fragile
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, right or left, liberal or conservative, the 2020 US presidential election was easy to lose faith in. With Big tech, Russian collusion, voter fraud and more, it’s been a crazy ride. Much needs to be done to restore the faith in election integrity for the United States.
19. Keep Your Life Consistent Despite Adversity
This is like trying to pass a shit test from a woman. Keep cool, don’t freak out and keep going with life. As much as possible don’t let adversity steer you away from your goals and progress you are making in your life. Just keep moving forward.
20. Continue To Help Others, Now Maybe More Than Ever
Give blood, volunteer your time with a charity, help a friend or relative, call an old friend. Keep connected with other people and help out however you can!
Stay Superior gents and commit to making 2021 your best year ever!!