Lifestyle

It was 10pm on a Wednesday night and my body had just given out on me.

…60, 70, 80, 90…

There’s no way I’m finishing my 100th squat.

Truth be told, I just wanted to leave and finish the article I had due in just a few hours. Amongst the exhaustion, the anxiety was starting to set in.

I had no boss to answer to, no team waiting on me, and nobody waiting for me to publish.

All I had was a ticking clock, an idea burning a hole in my mind, and a fear of missing a deadline that meant so much to me.

Thursday was coming and I could barely move my body let alone think straight. I had the perfect excuse to call it a night.

And why not? I succumb to these mental fallacies all the time; give it my all in one area so there’s nothing left to give in another.

Forget the last 10 squats. Forget publishing in the morning. There’s time for it tomorrow when I’m ready to make it.

But as fast as Thursday comes around, it goes just as fast.

Truth be told, Thursday doesn’t give a fuck about me.

Thursday doesn’t need me like I need it. Am I so vain to play with time like it owes me something? Like it cares about my weakness?

There’s a certain type of strength that comes from the actualization that you have no control; that you’re a microscopic cog in a machine that functions seamlessly with and without your existence.

It makes the pain of the next 10 squats seem trivial.

It makes the tiredness from the lack of sleep an afterthought.

It makes the anxiety of missing a deadline go away.

…98, 99, 100…

It gives you the fire you need to push through when you have no strength left.

Thursday may not give a fuck about me, but I give a fuck about me. And despite the pain, Thursday did not get the best of me.

See you next week.

What can I say about running a business?

When the good times are going, there’s not much that can knock you off from that “top of the world” feeling.

Money coming in, customers are happy, and you’ve built something your proud of. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Conversely, it doesn’t get much worse than waking up one day realizing that everything you built is gone; realizing that you could have done something to prevent it.

But this isn’t about regrets and this isn’t about living in the past. A business isn’t built on what worked in the past but on how it innovates for the future. This was a tough lesson for me to learn because for most of my career, I knew nothing but success after success.

Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get a damn clue.

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Go Time

Months and months I’ve been waiting for the moment. Building towards the moment it was finally perfect.

Months and months and I never knew when that moment would be; working towards a goal without no defined endpoint.

There was no chase for perfection, though I fell down that rabbit hole more than a few times. I always came out better though.

There was nothing at first, but what happened last was a big something. I had built this thing I wanted to share with others.

When it felt right I could release it. It will bring me success when its finally out there in any currency I valued most.

When it felt polished I’d know it. I could use what I’d built for myself and sell the results to others.

Built years ago and rebuilt countless times. I knew success back then but will it show again? Or did I fall behind in my obsessions?

Built for others out of needs of mine; built of preference learned from others. Built for the times or built of experience?

Whatever it is. Whatever it brings. Whatever happens. I have something I can’t explain; that is an enigma in my life.

Whatever I get back is the result of what I put in. Oh, the possibilities. I can say I put in everything, but what does the outcome tell me?

No, it’s not about the immediate result. Nothing I’ve achieved now came immediately. But I’ve done this before, am I missing something?

No, I’m starting something. Something out of nothing and something I’ve never done before. This time is not like the others, just like last time.

I need this. I need the thrill. I need the rush, the uncertainty that comes with this. I love it and I hate it.

I need this constant push, these endless puzzles to solve. I don’t know what I want or a whole lot of who I am but I have this.

Today I have something to do, something to show everybody. A thrill, an embarrassment, my best yet.

Today is the day I take that next step. Another small step closer to the top of the next bottom.

Haley wrote to me, asking:

I came across an article about you online, skipping college to go for your business. I am in a dilemma and would love you opinion. I’m 18 years old (graduating in a few months, woo-hoo!). However, I have started my own business/Etsy store. It is going very good. I am contemplating going to a small local school to get a backup degree, but still continuing my business as I go to school, from home. I understand that you just skipped college; do you think you missed out on the “college experience.” Just wanted to get your input.

My answer (I sent the poor girl a novel) was the following:

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Last night I made a declaration that really helped me put my life into perspective. That declaration was about what really mattered the most in my life and I had to be brutally honest about what those things are.

There are things from my past life that I haven’t been able to let go of that I have been holding me back in ways I never cared to acknowledge.

I can’t say what triggered these revelations but I’d like to try and start making sense of some things by talking about this quote I read earlier that day:

Continue reading →

Everyone is becoming an entrepreneur these days. Such a loaded word can mean so many different things to people, but the constant that remains true in any definition is simply:

You need to put in the work.

Entrepreneurs work long hours for themselves so they don’t have to work fewer for somebody else.

Entrepreneurs live their lives like nobody will so one day they can live their lives like nobody can.

These mantras personify what it means to be an entrepreneur and sound great when you have no other way of describing what you do to “normal” people, but what is it that makes an entrepreneur truly different?

Continue reading →

Needs

After 2 years of upsizing my life, I’ve gradually been downsizing.

2 years ago, I got my first apartment. It was a pretty spacious 1 bedroom unit.

1 year ago, I “upgraded” to a 2 bedroom apartment. This place was huge and I furnished every corner of it.

7 months ago, I started selling my stuff. Stuff I told myself I’d never have. Stuff that just seemed to be endless.

Furniture, electronics, decor, even clothes.

I was selling stuff, but what was really happening was a shift in my mindset.

I sold my stuff because I needed the money. But what I learned is a valuable lesson about needing and attachment.

The stuff I sold was purchased under the pretense of need.

I need an apartment to be happy.

I need that huge table so my friends have a place to sit.

I need that 60” television to watch my favorite programs.

I associated the outcomes I wanted with the need of stuff. Once my stuff stopped serving their purpose, it all just became a pile of crap I had to carry around.

Once I disassociated stuff with outcomes, I started seeing my life in a different way.

I have more to say on this, which is why I’m breaking it down into a few parts.

I’m about to leave Austin to head back home to New Jersey for Christmas. I’ll be driving, so I’ll have a lot of time to reflect on this topic.

See you then.

I said I wanted this

Today, December 13th, 2014, I’m officially broke and homeless.

I left a deep, loving relationship for the unknown. I broke my own heart, and even more painfully, I broke the heart of the person I love.

All I have are my laptop, my truck, my ideas, and $15 in cash. I’m going to sleep in a Walmart parking lot tonight (cheers to, uh, new experiences!).

Those are definitive facts about me today. I don’t know much else to say about myself these days.

My gut says it’s all apart of something bigger. A something I can’t yet visualize, but one I know will come together. It has to.

This post isn’t a cry for help or pity. Quite honestly, I’ve felt clearer than I have in a long time and the future seems brighter than ever (if I told you I wasn’t just rationalizing, would you believe me?).

From here, I can only move forward with a head held high, confident that the skills I’ve developed as a creative and human will take me in the right direction.

After all, I said I wanted this.

Sometimes you can’t help but feel the hopelessness buried underneath the strength that comes from plummeting into the unknown.

I’m a horrible decision maker. Rarely do I ever fully know what I want, and oftentimes don’t think things through clearly in the moment.

I even struggle making decisions when I have time to think about them. I’m a chronic over-thinker, and do not want to ever make the wrong decisions. Especially if they impact other people.

One minute, I’m fine with a choice I made, and the next, I’m regretting it in favor of the other choice. This is a cycle that can go on and on for the same decision, and it’s really a huge mental drain.

Is the other person happy? Is it for the good of the group? What is every single pro and con of this choice? — My brain

Present to me a good argument, and I can change my mind in a heartbeat. Throw in a counterpoint somewhere, and I could go right back to where I started.

It’s not that I don’t have the capacity to think for myself, or that I can’t formulate my own opinions. That’s not it at all.

It’s just that when push comes to shove, and I have to make a big decision, I struggle. It’s a flaw of mine. I put way too much pressure on myself, and want to please everybody else.

But you know what I’m starting to realize? It’s perfectly fine to make selfish decisions; decisions that serve you, and not necessarily anybody else.

Sometimes the difference between happiness and unhappiness is making a tough decision.

Should I make a decision that benefits me, even if it isn’t in the best interest of someone else? Absolutely. If it’s something I know will make me happy, I have to do it.

I don’t believe every decision I make in life has to best serve me, though. But I do believe that I need to make more self-serving ones, because I wasn’t put on this planet to serve anybody else.

Alex Mangini is the most important person in the world to Alex Mangini. I like how that sounds.

Maybe I’m not all that fucked up in the head. Maybe I just wanted everyone to like me.

Regardless, I just want to do what makes me happy.

Perfect The Way You Are

I had a conversation recently that fired me up. I was getting to know a new friend and was telling them about my fitness ambitions. I’m a skinny guy, so I want to put on some weight and build muscle.

My goals are simple, but putting on weight isn’t something that comes easy for me, making them very challenging to accomplish.

They took what I said as a cry for validation and proceeded to “comfort” me:

Your goal is to gain weight? You’re perfect the way you are, but whatever makes you happy. Just don’t overdo it, everyone wants to get into it when they’re young. It’s every kids dream.

First of all, I understand the point this person was trying to make. You’re perfect the way you are. It’s true, I have great health, all of my limbs, an active mind and I honestly couldn’t ask for more; I’m truly blessed and I know it.

But is that where it should stop? In today’s world, where feeling good and being comfortable are at such high value, is going out of your way to make yourself uncomfortable as a challenge to get something you want such a crazy idea?

When did a challenge become such a bad thing? Should I just wait for my metabolism to slow down so I can start gaining weight, or accept the screaming voice inside my head and go after what I want? Latter, please!

And don’t drop the “happiness” bullshit on me. This isn’t a matter of happiness, which so many people associate having a goal with.

Happiness is an independent decision defined by nothing. After a long time of torturing myself, I’ve learned that there is no correlation between happiness and wants. Achieving my goals, fitness and beyond, will not impact that in any way.

Take emotions away from a goal, and you still have a goal to accomplish.

We’ve become so hesitant to pursue what we want in favor of comfort. The fear of failure trumps the gains of success, and God forbid the path to getting what you want adds a few negative feeling into your world for a short time.

The kid in us aspired to change the world before we knew what the world was. The adult wants to protect it.

Break some rules, push yourself, cry, sweat, dream, and just go fucking get it.

The Blessed Skillset

I have a skill that’s going to make me a millionaire someday. I know it.

Does that statement make you uncomfortable? Are you offended? Do you doubt me because it sounds unrealistic, or do you make fun of me because “you’ve heard it before”?

No, I know what it is: it’s the arrogance. I’m arrogant because I have a skill and a goal.

People tell me, “well the rest of us weren’t blessed with your skill”, and it breaks my heart a little. And no, the little “get off your high horse, asshole” jab everyone tries to make with that statement isn’t what kills me.

The part that kills me is to hear others put themselves down like that; to admit that their lives are out of their control and they could never attain “such a skill” themselves.

Let me tell you where my skill came from, because I sure as shit wasn’t born with it.

I avoided dances and parties throughout High School (remember when I was still a “regular person” in High School?), gave up tons of sleep over the years, and even moved across the country to be in an environment that better suited my skill.

I’ve made a lot of money, a ton of mistakes, and have pissed plenty of people off.

But I love my skill, and it enables me to do what I love. I’m going to use my skill to benefit my life in every way possible, because my skill is who I am.

It started as something that was purely a hobby; a little fascination. It was an interest most didn’t really understand, and something I’ve almost given up on a thousand times. Yet, I’ve always had some weird, unexplainable desire to keep going.

And we all have those things. I’ve turned mine into a lifestyle. And I’m so fucking proud of that.

My path is not your path, but our interests are the same. I promise.

This is more than “hippie-dippie feel good bullshit”. This is life, man. It’s that thing we only have one of.

Who’s in control of yours?

The Slump Life

Responsibility is a real pain in the ass. But Voltaire put it a lot better than that:

With great power comes great responsibility

When it boils down to it, you’re the one who’s in control of your life. You rely on yourself to make the best decisions you can, for yourself and maybe even others, so you can live to fight another day.

But what if you can’t even trust yourself to take care of the basic things in your life like your health, job, or household? If you don’t trust yourself, how can you muster up the energy to care for others who are important to you?

It’s not that there’s something wrong with you, it just means you’re living The Slump Life.

The Slump Life is for those who accept their unhappiness, and procrastinate on achieving their goals to set everything aside for “tomorrow”. It’s for those who refuse to move out of Fantasy Land and face themselves in the real world.

The Slump Life is for those who don’t give a shit that their actions, or lack thereof, impact others. Eventually everyone else will stop giving a shit too.

And most important of all, The Slump Life is for those who don’t believe they have what it takes to pick themselves up. It’s for those who don’t want to remain accountable, and accept passively moving through life.

Some people just aren’t about The Slump Life, though. Some people can’t handle carrying the weight of mediocrity on their shoulders, knowing they’re the ones in control of their lives.

We all go through slumps, they’re simply unavoidable. But the moment you become complacent about it is the moment you’ve embraced The Slump Life as your own.

And it’s not something to hate, it’s something you should embrace; a reality. Denying it only digs you deeper and deeper. Once you’ve embraced The Slump Life, you’ll know exactly what to do next.

Surrounding Yourself

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher
— Oprah Winfrey

One of the biggest burdens that we carry throughout our lives are bad relationships. In other words, maintaining relationships that don’t necessarily benefit us or push us forward in our growth.

It’s so easy to go out and make friends. The challenging part is keeping that person as a friend, whether you interact with them frequently or not.

The hard part, though?

The hard part is building a mutually beneficial relationship. A kind of relationship where you grow with each other, oftentimes because of that person.

Want to know what I think is the most frightening, confusing, and saddest part of some relationships are?

It’s knowing how to let a person go; to let their influence on you dwindle, and to start dedicating more of your time into yourself and to other more beneficial relationships.

It’s something we will have to face in our lives at some point, and it’s one that I feel a lot of people fail at (man, oh man, how I’ve failed in this area so much).

Those emotions that I mentioned above (fear, confusion, and sadness) are not always put in their place, and cause us to make poor decisions. Of course, other emotions like happiness, excitement and other more “positive” emotions are at play too.

This mixed bag of emotions can cause us to hold onto people that don’t bring the best out of us, and even hinder our growth.

Because we as human beings are imperfect, we’re always looking to better ourselves in one way or the other. The best way to do it is to build great relationships.

Relationships where you have deep conversations. Relationships where you can relax, and think about/do nothing at all. Relationships where you go out and explore your environment.

I like to believe that the majority of relationships we hold onto are ones that truly benefit us.

But at the same time, I know it’s easy to carry bad relationships. It’s easy for things to fall through the cracks, and it’s easy to let emotions overshadow logical reasoning.

When you start to believe somebody is bringing you down in any way, it’s time to seriously reevaluate where you stand with that person.

You may not like what you find. You may keep trying to make things better. But never do it at the expense of you.

A Morning Routine

Mornings are a weird time of day for me. I love them, but they’re weird.

I’m a little groggy from just waking up, and I usually want to just roll around in bed playing around on my phone. All the blinds in my apartment are closed, and it’s pretty dark with the sun barely shining through.

It’s hard to get out of bed sometimes. It’s just a fact of life as far as I’m concerned.

Even when I have a million things to do in a day, and couldn’t be more excited to get to them, there’s this mystifying feeling in the air telling me to continue to be a lazy piece of shit for just a little while longer.

It’s important for us to start our days right. I feel that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Sometimes being lazy in bed for a little while is a great way to go. But more often than not, we should probably get out of bed sooner.

Most advice you hear about “how to get out of bed faster” will tell you to plan your day out in advance so you have something to look forward to when you wake up. While this is great advice, I think we should plan for immediate results.

After all, that “mystifying feeling” in the air I talked about above couldn’t care less about what happens later. What’s in it for me now? Why should I get out of bed right now?

For me, I’ve found a morning routine I really love. I wake up between 8-9am, get a quick shower/brush my teeth, straighten up my apartment a bit, and get breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, Austin Java (on Barton Springs).

I love everything about my morning routine. I love that the sun isn’t fully up yet when I wake up. I love opening the shades in my apartment and watching that sunlight flood in.

I love the drive to Austin Java, and taking the exit on 290 that loops downwards towards the Barton Creek Greenbelt to get onto the Capital of Texas Highway.

This routine is something I look forward to immediately after waking up, and helps me prepare my mind and body for the rest of the day. Hell, I even love the thrill of trying to beat the heat, and getting outside while it’s still chilly out.

I take my mornings more seriously than any other part of my day. And it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a while.

What’s your morning like?

The 3 Most Fulfilling Things

  1. Working out
  2. Cooking for yourself
  3. Listening to music

As human beings, we have the natural instinct to create. Whether it’s a painting, a house, or a baby— we are all here to leave a lasting impression through our creations.

The 3 things listed above, while simple, are some of the best things you can do to help you create more. By first, creating a healthy you.

A healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy spirit.

What are you without even one of those things?