A dinosaur
a blog by Jarrett Retz

My 24th Year.

by Jarrett RetzOctober 5th, 2017

I was living at home (in 2016) and waiting for the next part of my life to begin as an assistant golf professional. I was content, and remain content, with this career choice. However, there is a lot more (at least to me) that can go into a life than just work; I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to show my identity to people clearly. I wanted to see how many important things I could achieve.

Like I had done so many times before, I made a list.

I had recently been planning, right before my 23rd birthday, a road trip around the country that would start on 'Day 1' of My 24th Year. That was the first item I put on the list because the best time for me to leave was right around my birthday.

That summer, I had plenty of time to think. I was working grounds crew at a golf course. I spent hours of time mowing greens, raking bunkers with my headphones in, listening to podcasts, speeches, and big ideas took my imagination to high places.

I wasn't starting cold. I had some recent success. I passed an important golfing ability test (shooting the best score of my life), climbed a mountain I had my sites on for a year (Mt. Stuart), graduated college, and landed a job in an industry that interested me.

Despite things going my way the previous year, I felt like there was more I could do.

So I made a note (on the very useful app Evernote) that looked like this.

Record a collaboration of things I want to accomplishment, ways I want to live, and experiences I'd like to have in what I hope to become the most progressive and meaningful year of my life.

  • Become proficient in a second language
  • Road trip around US
  • Wim Hof Method
  • Leave North America
  • Run a marathon
  • Body weight training (gymnastic style)
  • Get involved with a girl
  • Story Corps
  • 1secondapp
  • Write about worse experiences in journal to gain narrative (cognitive therapy)
  • Build the relationships that matter, or improve the older ones
  • Go on a backpacking trip
  • Stand up comedy

During the year, I had the chance to write about a few (so I won't go into detail about those). I will just provide links;

As for the items not on that list;

Become proficient in a second language, as I approached the end of my year, I realized this goal wasn't descriptive enough. I practiced Spanish consistently but went through long periods of not improving. I tried DuoLingo, italki (Skyping with native speakers), and I used flash cards. I improved. However, in a years time I thought I would be better at speaking it than I am.

1secondapp, this is an app I purchased for $5 that helps someone store a one second video of their life. It displays it on a calendar and one can create short videos of months, weeks, or—in my case—a year. The app is self described as, "A Modern Day Visual Diary. Stitch The Moments of Your Life Into a Single Continuous Chronological Movie." There's also a TED Talk that explains the idea well. I've missed two weeks worth of days, but I still love to watch the full video, which I have added below;

StoryCorps, another app from a TED Talk that intrigued me:

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

I wanted to interview family members, to strengthen relationships, and to preserve something special incase they were to pass unexpectedly.

Here is a link to a beautiful talk I had with my Mom, I have another talk on the profile with my very special Nana as well.

I did another interview with my Aunt in St. Louis, but to my devastation, I lost the recording. I remember how she told me of performing on boats (talented singer/actor), and how she moved to New York on a whim when she was young and then to L.A. I also cannot forget some very important advice she had given me on raising kids.

Write about worse experiences in journal to gain narrative (cognitive therapy), I wrote briefly about a simple CBT technique CBT: Depression Treatment Manual but I also wrote in a journal about thoughts and memories I had been avoiding. The aim of this is to build a narrative, to literally write your own story in a way that can help you, instead of consistently letting it hurt you.

I think that Jordan Peterson's Self Authoring program would be a much more effective way of getting this done actually.

Leave North America, this was inspired by advice that I heard Malcolm Gladwell give on a podcast. It was bold of me to put the road trip and leaving North America on the same year, but that's what these lists are for. I can cite the financial and time commitment road blocks that this posed, but they would be mere excuses. This item will have to wait until The 25th Year.

Body Weight Training GST, not just a skinny guys excuse to avoid heavy lifting! Who doesn't want an incredibly good looking—and useful—body. Gymnastic Strength Training was something that I wanted to experiment with, and I have really enjoyed it. I have done it through Gymnastic Bodies. I started the Fundamentals course (recommended by Tim Ferriss on The Tim Ferris Show). It was twenty something days and I have continued to do the Daily Limber—almost daily—and love my mobility. I hope to purchase the more advanced courses and continue. This kind of health is very important to my career and livelihood.

Build the Relationships that Matter, this was another goal that I think lacked any measurable results. Essentially, I wanted to get closer to my family, even though geographically we were getting further apart.

The best way I implemented this was setting the goal to talk to my immediate family over the phone once a week. I would try to give them a call, sometimes they wouldn't answer, but we would catch up on life.

The second thing I did was to hug my mom more. I don't see her a lot, so hugging her when I do, or have a chance, was a step in the right direction. I hope she noticed the effort.

StoryCorps was ideally going to help with this goal, and it did for a few interviews. I got to know my grandma better, and when I lived at home during the winter I would go over to see her—and my uncle—to hang out or help with their yard.

I also wanted to have solid relationships at work. Since I was going to spend so much time there. It started out very positive in the early days. Offering to help with major yard project, helped another move a couch, gave out some books, went to a comedy show, but something changed. I'm not sure if it was because I didn't let myself fit in as well as I could have, or if I didn't match the culture, but there was a lull. It was a decrease in effort, for some emotional reason or another, where I missed some key months of relationship building.

Only recently in the last month and a half, or so, has it really came back. I begin to keep track (in a journal) whether my experiences at work were positive, feeling more comfortable with coworkers, or retracting. What else helped was going to a wedding together, and working long nights (cracking inappropriate jokes).

Anyway, I went from a point of not thinking that I would miss my occupation, and looking somewhere else, to really appreciating deeply the kindness I had received. I have been appreciative lately in contemplation about how lucky I am to have people around me that want me to succeed as much I do. Most of the reflection has come as part of my participation in the 5-minute journal activity.

Get involved with a girl. Another very important—yet sensitive—topic and it came on the coattails of building the relationship that matters. My last serious relationship had ended two years ago. I think that lots of unhappiness in my life came from loneliness.

I had lived alone the year before. I had a strong desire to really look for something that I wanted, and to have an intimate relationship again. I had also gotten some valuable information from a book, The Defining Decade, by Meg Jay, which highlighted how people in their twenties are happier who have a committed relationship.

I searched for advice on this topic via internet articles, a book, and from a close friend or two. I tried to be courageous. I kept in shape, bought some new clothes and tried a new haircut. I worked on standing up straighter, paying attention to my words (especially how I said them). I set aside time for myself to visualize being more confident in myself.

Then, of course, I downloaded Tinder and Bumble. These apps were quite entertaining and kept me preoccupied. I had a couple short flings, but they lacked depth. They didn't have a story to them. The second one ended, and as I approached the end of my 24th year I began to worry that this goal wouldn't be reached. I tried to rationalize the efforts, but it felt like a stretch to claim that I had been 'involved' with them.

That all changed just about a month out from 24th birthday. I asked someone out that I had always been intimidated by, but who I knew from work, and had a crush on. I had always made excuses before, like telling myself, "that person is so out of your league and you would be out of your mind to try.."

After we had been on a few dates, some of the first compliments she had given me weren't about my new haircut, tan, or slightly athletic build (although I'm sure those things didn't hurt). What she seemed to really enjoy was my consistent positive emotion, and how I was nice to so many people. These compliments were pleasantly surprising (duh), but not just for the obvious reasons. I had been trying to improve other aspects of my appearance in hopes that it would be the difference maker, when there was a lot of value coming from a source that I didn't think would be the x-factor.

I really like her, and can now safely say that this goal was achieved this year.

Other things that I got involved with this year, which weren't on my list, and actually may have taken away from the success of other things, but were fun nonetheless;

  • practicing golf consistently
  • joining a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym
  • watching a series of video lectures on astronomy (very fascinating!)
  • No alcohol in February
  • making a website
  • swimming

A few different methods or tools helped me throughout this year. I will list what I've done, why, and where to get more information about it.

Most importantly, whenever I felt overwhelmed with a task or goal I reminded myself of the single most important thing I could do: something.

Affirmations, I bought a journal, or used scratch paper, and wrote down whatever goal I was working on. This practice is based on—and best explained—by Scott Adams on the Tim Ferriss podcast. I recommend listening to the whole thing, but the affirmation stuff starts at 22:39

5-minute journal, really simple, and did not come into play until later in the year. Practicing appreciation can increase positive emotion day-to-day, if you don't believe me just freaking Google it, and writing three things down for the day that would make it a success was incredibly helpful. If you are interested in that, check out the website (the format that I've been using daily is mega-free. It is the quick start PDF)

Meditation, my longest streak this year was something like 180 straight days meditating for various lengths of time. I believe that mediation is a good path for emotional IQ. I used the app Headspace for most of my daily sessions. However, I also think that Sam Harris's guided podcasts were very helpful (especially his 26 minute session which can be found here).

Evernote (app) has been a vital app. I record book notes, quotes, to-do lists, jokes, and I have not thought twice about paying the $5 a month for it. It has capabilities beyond my simple uses that could make it conceivably even more helpful. I used Evernote to write down/keep track of "My 24th Year".

Way of Life (app), another app that helps remind me to put the work in daily. I keep 8-11 things on this app that I want to get done (or avoid) daily. It's good visual feedback and keeps track of streaks.

Writing My Goals Down, Setting a Timeline, setting timelines in the affirmations, and getting the thoughts down on paper, is so important. It's tough to sound original with this knowledge. A great podcast for behavior change, writing goals down, making to-do lists is the Freakonomics podcast: "How To Be More Productive."

Podcasts, I listen to a lot of them. All the time. Pretty much every morning, or any long drive. I get book recommendations, esoteric knowledge, general knowledge, news, and Spanish practice. Here are some of my favorite.

  • The Tim Ferriss Show. I've listened to this one religiously, and it's given me books, methods, ideas, and motivation to do so much more with my time.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience. I listen to this one off-and-on but some of his best guests have been Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and I ran my marathon listening to his episode with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Freakonomics. I don't listen to Freakonomics anymore really, but I listened to so many when I first found out about it. It's topics are very interesting and it is well made.
  • TED Radio Hour. Recommended to me by one of my best friends, Chase Pierson, I had listened to many of these podcasts. It's a great way to get a conglomeration of TED Talks that focus on one big idea.

Reading Books, I'm not sure how many books I read this year. However, I'm very sure it's upwards of thirty. Books have changed my life dramatically. They give me so much joy, motivation, and valuable information. I read everyday. Whatever you need in life, I suggest you look for it in a book. Some of my favorites for helping me achieve this year were;

  • The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, recommendation from TED Radio Hour
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, picked up from the Joe Rogan Experience
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, heard about on Tim Ferriss Show
  • Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, she was on the Tim Ferris Show

YouTube, I watch/listen to many things on YouTube for information, motivation, and fresh perspectives.

  • Any Tony Robbins video
  • This video, that I posted about a little while ago. I listen to it in the mornings, usually before a work out or something difficult, because it gives me chills, and reminds me of why I'm doing what I'm doing.
  • Sometimes I just search "motivational videos" in the morning, coffee in hand, and get excited about the day.
  • Maps of Meaning is a series of twelve videos by Jordan Peterson. I don't give a damn what your views on him are. The class he teaches is so important to young men like myself. Some of my favorite sound-bytes include;
    • “Do you want to have a life with no storms. Or do you want to have a life where you can ride out the storms."
    • “Are you who you are? Can I box you into that identity? ... What happens when that identity is blown into pieces? ... Are you who you are? Or are you the thing that can continually be more than who you are?”
    • "If what you’re doing isn’t working.. it’s where you haven’t gone that you need to go ... if it didn’t push you to the limit you wouldn’t get anything valuable from it.”

Quotes, I remember being hungover at work, during one of the periods where I wasn't getting along with my coworkers as well as I thought I would be. I was really getting down on my job, I pulled up a quote, and typed it into a Word document. Then I printed it out.

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started. And when I started I was desperately trying to be where I am now."


Taped on the wall in my room is the quote;

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage."

Anais Nin

And if not the most important, the most crucial..

"Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing."

Tony Robbins

I printed out about 20 quotes and put them in a cup. In the morning I would pull one out, read it, then put it in my pocket. I did this for a month, but rotated certain quotes in my mind depending on what I was trying to accomplish.

I don't have Netflix. I can never converse about shows because I haven't seen them.

I deleted Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook off my phone. This is a personal preference. I don't think you have to go anti-social to get things done. However, for me it was a plus to focus on myself—and the people in my immediate environment—day-to-day instead of what other people were doing.

My alarm clock, I had a friend at the gym say, "Man, I need to wake up earlier. I would be able to get more done." In a polite was I responded, "Duh." I had another friend ask if I woke up early, and I told them yes. They said they wished they could do that. I informed them you can. Try setting your alarm, and when it goes off get up.

Start small though. Think ok.. first, roll over. Second, remove covers. Third, sit up and turn. Fourth, stand. Fifth, move towards bathroom/turn on light

Next Steps...? I have began to make The 25th Year. Another list of things that I hope to accomplish with a focus on doing things with other people. My 24th Year had many individual pursuits, and things that I did without friends, or family. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was very obvious in reflection what I have been avoiding

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