2012 Year in Review

What an incredible year.  I got the idea from a blog on how to do a year end review.  Here I go:

Travel & Major Events

1. Las Vegas:  Caesers Palace for a few nights for Affiliate Summit West

2. Miami: Attended the iDate conference and got to hang out with my buddy Eric who showed me the town.

  • Launched We Just Match
  • Got married to the sweetest woman in the world

3. Miami & Bahamas: Went on the Matchmakers Cruise on another trip to Miami.

  • Quit my job and became self employed

4. Israel: Spent 2 1/2 weeks traveling Israel with my wife.

5. Union Pier, Michigan: Spent Labor Day weekend staying with Kathy and some friends at a small cottage near the beach.

  • Added a Doberman Pinscher to our family

6. Los Angeles, CA: Visited my family in LA during Chanukah.

People I’m grateful for

  • My wife:  I feel so blessed to be married to Kathy.  She continues to inspire me to be a better man.  I can’t really describe how wonderful it is knowing that I have a partner who loves and supports me so much.  It has become a life mission for me to do my best to brighten her day, support her and show her how much she is loved.  Anytime I take action towards that, I feel better.  Through her actions and words of wisdom, I hope to learn how to be more like her including more appropriate, patient and understanding.
  • Kathy’s Family: Almost immediately, Kathy’s family embraced me as one of their own, as they do with all people.  I see where Kathy gets her endless love from.  We have so much fun spending time with them and laughing.  They are wacky, energetic and so giving.  I can spend hours going into each person in her family including her parents, grandparents, brothers and cousins.  I didn’t just gain the best wife in the world but I got an awesome family to boot!
  • My Nuclear Family:  It took me almost 30 years to truly appreciate my family.  Call me a late bloomer.  But the more time I spend with my nuclear family, the more I realize how loving and giving they really are.  I never thought I would want to spend time with my family and yet I really look forward to getting together and chatting with my family and playing with my adorable niece and nephew.
  • My Extended Family: It’s been really cool growing older and building relationships with my extended family.  I don’t have to look far for inspiration in my family.  I have a few people in my family who have endured crazy tragedies and yet continue to give to others and be of service.  There are families who keep reaching out to Kathy and I to have dinner with them or just hang out.  And there are people who personally challenge me to grow…in my faith, in my profession and just as a human being.
  • Friends: This is another area where I feel incredibly blessed.  Sometimes, I wish I had a clique of tight friends who always hang out together but that has never really been my style.  I tend to have an eclectic group of friends from all across the spectrum.  From hippies and punks to religious and atheists.  Some people I talk to almost daily and others I may talk to once a year.  But the common theme the past few years is there is zero drama in my life with my friends.  I surround myself with loving, kind people and don’t deal with the craziness that I know can be so prevalent in friendships.  I also have a level of openness and honesty with a lot of my friends.  Some of my friends have even become daily confidantes or in other cases, have inspired me to make changes that have launched me into a new level of existence.  I’m not really good at chit chatting about pop culture or TV shows.  I tend to enjoy talking about how we are dealing with life.  The problems, challenges, solutions and very real emotions that people have to deal with.  Luckily, so do many of my friends.

My Current Favorite Things

  • Shabbat:  This is one of the coolest things of this year.  Kathy and I don’t drive from Friday night to Saturday night.  We spend time with each other and with family. I love hosting Friday night Shabbats.  In the past year, I think we’ve had up to 17 or 18 people over for dinner at our apartment.  It so incredible getting to sit down and serve delicious, home cooked food to friends and family.  I love slowing down and devoting a day to being close with others and recognizing how blessed we are.
  • Our Apartment: It’s the perfect size, clean and so great for hosting dinners.  We live right across from a big park, which makes dog walking a breeze.  We also have great neighbors and are a short walk from our family.  It’s a great price and most importantly, it gets WARM on cold, Chicago nights.  Did I mention free heat?
  • Rocky:  Best dog ever.
  • Cleaning: Who would have thought I’d be so into it?
  • Organization: I love learning about this.  I need more organization skills and can’t wait to learn more.
  • Dog Parks: How did I miss out on these things in the past?  We just discovered Prairie Wolf, a 44 acre dog park.  It’s so. much. fun.
  • Improv: I have never performed so much improv.  The Horatio Ratio (my improv troupe) is filled with such talented people.  I feel so lucky to learn from them and play with them.
  • Dog Training: I really hope I stay into this.
  • Judaism: My family inspires me to learn and grow in my faith.  We keep meeting such wonderful people in our community.  I really hope I get invited to more Jewish weddings soon.
  • Meditation: Thanks to Andrew Sadock for teaching me some really cool meditation techniques.  I’m putting these to good use!
  • Masterminds: This has been one of the most powerful tools that I’ve used in the past year.  Check out Napoleon Hill to learn more.

My Work

We Just Match: I’m looking to spend much more time on this in the year to come.  It’s time to really grow this and make it a helpful service that is bringing people together.  I know I have a ton to give, it is just a matter of learning how to balance the work I’m doing with the Institute and my own work.

Lisa Clampitt’s Projects: Working with Lisa on the Matchmaking Institute, Trade Association, Matchmaking Pro and the 2013 Matchmakers Conference has been such a wonderful experience.  She and Christian are so cool and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish this year.  

What I want to work on in 2013

Balance: I think this is the big thing I’d like to learn.  I have so many goals, ideas and desires that it can become overwhelming and I tend to follow the whim of the day rather than prioritizing.  For 2013, I’d like to set some very specific goals and build routines, action plans and weekly/monthly reviews to ensure I am making progress.

Spiritual Growth: I’ve had an incredible couple of years, however I know that because of all the blessings I’ve been given, I need to work even harder to become a better person.  The same things that I did before won’t cut it.  I need to up my service to Hashem and the people around me.

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The Power of a Daily Ritual

My life started getting really good a couple years ago.  I began exercising regularly, eating healthy, building a deeper relationship with my family, spending more time with friends and discovering more of my passions.  Once I tapped into my passions, my life got even bigger.  This means performing improv theater, doing yoga, brazilian jiu-jitsu, meditation and spending more time devoted to my faith.  Add getting married to the list and you’ve got a packed life!

When it rains it pours and as I became happier, I also became more successful.  My career took off and entrepreneurial projects began to blossom.  All of a sudden, I would wake up with a list of 1000 things that I could do. I felt like I was juggling a thousand balls and I couldn’t keep them all in the air.  Balls began dropping and I realized that I was in over my head.  But I had seen hundreds of people with more responsibility than I.  Successful entrepreneurs with multiple children were balancing their lives. I don’t have any kids yet.  How come I can’t keep balance?

I had to find a better way.  I couldn’t let things slip at work.  I read dozens of books on personal productivity, Attention deficit disorder and executive functioning skills.  I interviewed EVERYBODY I knew who seemed organized, including a phone interview with Dave Logan, the author of Tribal Leadership.  I began testing out different organizational techniques until I found something that works for me.  Which leads me to my discovery.  There is no one right solution for every person.

Personal productivity and life balance are ever changing challenges in our lives.  Our priorities and external environment are constantly changing which requires that we remain agile.  I believe the key to me being successful with my personal productivity is my daily ritual.  Yes, I have a system of organization that is based heavily on David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done”.  It’s important to have the general framework of how to be organized. But beyond that, the cornerstone of my productivity has been my daily rituals.  These rituals help me to get focused, grounded and organized.  

Here is my current morning ritual:

When I wake up, I immediately WRITE DOWN MY DREAMS.  Dream analysis is something that I’ve been interested in since I began reading about Carl Jung years ago.  I find that when I am aware of my dreams, I can work on things like lucid dreaming, which helps me to solve problems in the dream state. 

Second, I READ MY 10/10/10 LIST.  This is a list of 10 affirmations, 10 things I’m grateful for and 10 things I’d like to manifest in my life.  The list is actually more like 20/25/10, however it started out as 10.  This list is constantly changing as I become more connected with things and some manifestation lines are manifested and move over to the gratitude list. Then, I put in more things I’d like to manifest.

This list helps me to align with my long-term goals and my personal purpose in life.  It also gets me really excited to start the day.  As I’m reading this list, I began seeing opportunities for ACTION.  As I read each statement, I ask myself, “How can I achieve this today?”  That question helps me with my next ritual.

I write out a daily TO-DO LIST and PRIORITIZE it.  This is a no brainer for me.  It frees up my mind, removes my scattered thoughts and keeps me on track.  This is one of the most important things I can do all day.

Once I know what my plan is for the day, I PRAY AND MEDITATE.  This is time when I can visualize myself going through the day successfully.  I try to recreate my day in my mind, acting like the man I look up to most in the world.  I pray for guidance and calm my body physically and mentally so I can open up to any intuitive thoughts or feelings.

And that’s it in the morning.  I finish getting ready and I’m off to complete my action plan and fulfill my purpose in life, feeling inspired and motivated (most the time).  

I continue my daily ritual into the evening with a nightly ritual that gives me peace and serenity before bedtime.

First, I WRITE OUT MY DAY in my journal.  I note experiences where I could have done better and I try to visualize what it would have looked like if I acted differently.  I also note experiences where I did a good job.  I take those notes and incorporate them into my daily action plan for the next day, constantly reminding myself what is working and what is not.  I pray for a little when I’m done, asking my higher power for forgiveness and the strength to do better next time.

After my review, I READ.  It’s important for me to continue learning and I read books that contain positive messages that help me to build my spiritual and mental muscles.  If I have the energy, I will go through my 10/10/10 list, ensuring that the list is still exciting and motivating to me.  It’s also helpful that I not use any electronics about an hour before I go to bed.  This helps me to rest more peacefully and I’m not as wired.  I find that I wake up feeling more relaxed and calm the next morning.

As I turn off the lights and get ready to sleep, I will ask for help in solving a difficult problem.  Many times, the answer will came in the form of a dream or a intuitive thought the next day.

I am not perfect with these rituals and don’t do them everyday.  However, I can tell you that since I’ve started this routine, my life continues to get bigger and I feel a sense of peace and serenity.  Wishing you much success!

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What I Really Want vs. What I Really Need

It’s almost obligatory to begin reviewing your life when you hit certain milestones.  I recently turned 30 and inevitably had my own moments of introspection.  The idea that hit me the hardest was what a huge contrast there is in where I am and where I always wanted to be.  I know two things today.

1.  The past year has been the most fulfilling, exciting, joyous year of my life.
2.  I never wanted to live the life that I am living today.

Seriously.  If you would’ve told me 12 years ago that I would spend my Friday nights hanging around with family, eating dinner and playing board games, I would’ve cried.  I had a very clear cut vision of what I thought I wanted.  Adventure, excitement, live music, boat trips, exotic travel, lots of girlfriends, debauchery and of course, expensive stuff.

You could call my life a lot of things today but debaucherous is not one of them.  I go to bed early.  I wake up even earlier.  I really enjoy playing bananagrams with my girlfriend on the weekends.  My idea of a late night is anything approaching midnight.  I don’t drink or smoke.  I hang out with my orthodox Jewish family members, talking about being of service to family and God…maybe even singing some songs together.

The motives behind my desire for fame, financial wealth and debauchery were to be happy and feel successful.  The irony is that I find more satisfaction and fulfillment from things that I would have wanted the very least.

This is more confirmation for me that when I live my life trying to make myself happy, I end up more miserable.  Yet, when I focus more on being of service to others (my friends, family and community), I end up feeling a sense of peace, serenity and fulfillment that is greater than anything I could have imagined.  Through service and an honest effort to be more humble, I get what I need instead of what I want.  And when I get what I need, I’m learning that it’s what I’ve always wanted.

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This Makes Me Wanna Dance….

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Am I Making The RIght Choice?

I began reading “Enchantment” by Guy Kawasaki tonight and he mentions a checklist he uses to decipher right from wrong.  My friend shared a similar checklist with me a couple years ago.  It has been an invaluable tool to guide me in my decision making.  Here it is:

1.  Does the course of action I plan to follow seem logical and reasonable?  Never mind what anyone else has to say. Does it make sense to me?  If it does, it is probably right.

2.  Does it pass the test of sportsmanship?  In other words, if everyone followed this same course of action, would the results be beneficial for all?

3.  Where will my plan of action lead?  How will it affect others?

4.  Will I think well of myself when I look back at what I have done?

5.  I try to separate myself from the problem.  I pretend, for one moment, it is the problem of the person I most admire.  I ask myself how that person would handle it.

6. I hold up the final decision to the glaring light of publicity.  Would I want my family and friends to know what I have done? (Just one example: What if it were the headline on page 1 of the Chicago Tribune?) The decisions I make in the hope that no one will find out are usually wrong.

Hope this helps somebody in their decision making.  Above all, I pray for the right answer, and the answer usually comes.  Sometimes very quickly and other times very slowly but it always comes, if I wait for it.

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Good Morning…

Always amazed at what is possible:

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