Transcript: Season 1, Episode 11
A Year in Review, and a Year Ahead
Hey, everybody, Blake here for today's podcast. If you're watching this on YouTube, you will notice that unlike the previous episodes, you actually have a video of me talking and not just a static image with the name of the individual episode on it. I wanted to start putting podcast episodes up on YouTube, just for the opportunity to connect with a broader audience who may not have found us on Spotify, where most of our listeners tune in, or on our website, which is how most new people find us in general.
But in the past I posted those episodes straight to YouTube without ever recording a video component. I've always just recorded and edited the audio and published that. And I wanted to change it up, wanting to give you something to look at, which is me in my home office. Congratulations.
If you are listening in on Spotify or Apple podcast or wherever it is that you're listening and not watching this on YouTube, then welcome back. Welcome. Obviously you've got some sounds to hear, but nothing to see because that's just how podcasts work.
Anyway, today with this change of pace, I wanted to take a little bit of time to reflect on 2020 and talk about what's going to be coming up in 2021, especially as it relates to this podcast and my website, https://www.selfhimprovement.com.
Just as a quick heads up, there are probably going to be some snoring sounds in the background. Once again, my puppy is asleep at my feet and I am not a good enough audio editor to edit out the sounds of him snoring. And he's a bulldog. So snoring is just kind of what he does best.
But with puppy sounds aside, let's look back on 2020. It has been, um, how, how should we describe 2020? It's been a heck of a year. It's been a really interesting period of time for most of us. You know, I, I think that 2020 often gets spoken about as if it's some type of exception to the rule and everything that's happened is entirely unprecedented and so on and so forth.
You know, the reality is that 2020 is kind of... it has been a buildup of what has already existed and what has been in motion for a while. You know, we, we started the year with all kinds of crazy weather and fires and natural disasters, and then we moved into a pandemic and it feels exceptional.
It feels out of the ordinary for all of that to happen just kind of all at once. But the thing is conversations about the impacts of climate change and globalization and the need of a pandemic task force, that's, that's nothing new. That is, you know, those are conversations that have been going on for a while.
But we often think about it out things like climate change or a pandemic or conflict, or, you know, uh, political ass-hattery with vacuums. Like we silo it and assumed that one thing will happen at a time. And 2020 is just kind of proven for us that they can converge and cross paths and overlap and things can get real spicy, real fast.
That's that's a part of life. And I think that that's something that moving forward, we are going to have to recognize is always a very real possibility, you know, with the acceleration of climate change. I think the inclement weather and the, uh, natural disasters are unfortunately going to become more commonplace where we're going to be seeing more fires and hurricanes and tornadoes and more severe versions of each of these moving forward, especially, you know, if we don't take extreme actions to curb climate change.
And then with pandemics... I am no epidemiologist. I am not going to make any predictions around the future of pandemics, but I think that at the very least the COVID-19 pandemic has (well, hopefully-- we'll see) hopefully the, the pandemic has taught us to take these things seriously and to be more proactive in terms of how we respond to medical emergencies, especially at this scale.
You know, fingers crossed if something like this happens again in our lifetime, which you think the probability is that it will... But hopefully if it happens again, rather than seeing months of downplaying it and pretending it doesn't exist and trying to malign preventative measures for the sake of political brownie points, hopefully we see less of that. Hopefully we see strong, aggressive action being taken to mitigate damage.
And you know, the, the other part of 2022, that's been really spicy: It's been our political scene, uh, which is just hot garbage. And I'm recording this right before Christmas. It's December 23rd today. I just, I don't have the energy to get into a full discussion of how shit the political scene has been in 2020 and the general just like decline of civility and functional governance. Like the fact that we debate whether or not science should inform policy around issues rooted in science is absurd and the cult-like mentality around the election, particularly amongst Trump supporters of people claiming like, "Oh, the election was rigged. You know, we have proof. Trump's still going to be president the next four years."
It's like, okay, well, Where where's the proof? We, we have systems in place that if an election is compromised, we can respond to it. So please bring us the evidence so that we can, um, you know, respond. It's just like crickets. There is no evidence. There's just conspiracy theories and fanatics. It baffles me.
And I know I said that I don't have the energy to get into a full discussion, and then I just kind of ranted for a few minutes about general lunacy, but, uh, you know, it is what it is. And there's a lot more I could rant about when it comes to politics in 2020, but this is not a podcast about ranting or about politics.
This is a podcast about Finding fulfillment, thus the name Finding Fulfillment. And so rather than continuing to dwell on all of the shit that has gone wrong in 2020, I want to take a moment to just kind of reflect on some of the high points, at least, you know, some of the high points that I've experienced in my own life and on the Self-Himprovement website.And then, you know, shift gears a little bit and talk about what's coming in the future.
So in 2020, I somehow managed to make the most of being on lockdown. I've worked from home for the last like three years or so. Um, Yeah, just a little bit over three years. So for me being confined to my home office, wasn't a brand new experience.
What was brand new for me though, was not being able to break up my time at home with, you know, days working out at the coffee shop or, for a period of time, we couldn't go to gyms and restaurants were all shut down, even for delivery. And so the, in spite of the amount of time that I usually spend at home and in my home office, I still felt really confined and restless for those first several months of the COVID 19 lockdown.
And luckily I had a little bit of spare cash that I could spend, so I decided to go ahead and just make the most of my time at home and do something that I had been thinking about doing for quite a while, which was enrolling in a coach certification program. So yeah. This past February, I went to Colorado for a writing retreat hosted by the author, Sam Horn, who I absolutely adore.
Sam is amazing. She is so, so wonderful. And at this writing retreat, I had some time to work one-on-one with Sam and receive some coaching under her guidance. And it really opened my eyes to the effect that a competent coach can have on someone. I had been reading about coaching and just kind of generally interested in coaching as a concept prior to that, but it was working with Sam and being on the receiving end of some really great coaching that I thought, okay, I want to learn more about this process and what this process is like.
And so. In June, I believe it was. Yeah. In June of this year, I enrolled in a coach training program with, ACA coach academies and it's an ICF-certified program, and it's kind of like a general foundational study of coaching and It fulfills the 60 training hour requirement if you go for your ACC coach certification credential.
And that was a really interesting experience going through that coach training. You know, I, I do some coaching on the side. I don't do a ton of coaching right now. But I, I really enjoy the process and really enjoy having those conversations with people where you can kind of see the gears turning and see them coming to realizations about what they've been doing and what they want to do, and grasp that clarity around what their goals are, but more than doing one-on-one coaching, I think it's really been informative to the way that I approach content now and the types of content that I'm most invested in creating.
Each time I sit down at my computer to write to work on content, to plan content, moving forward, I'm approaching it from a more coach conscious perspective, you know, rather than publishing kind of informative articles about a given topic where it's an overview of here's some advice, here's some research behind it, do it, that what you will. I've noticed a shift in my own writing where I try and integrate more of that co-creative process into my writing. So it's not so much a monologue, but rather something that's intended to engage your thought and get you to reflect and actively think about your situation rather than just like reading and looking for an answer.
So that's been really, really rewarding and really, uh, impactful. In addition to completing coach certification. I also went ahead and enrolled in a personal training and nutrition coaching certification programs.
I am probably a broken record at this point, if you've listened to past episodes of the podcast in saying that I am an absolute gym rat, like I love to work out I'm in the gym most weeks, six days a week. It is my happy place. That's how I unwind after a busy day. That's how I deal with stress. That's how I manage my mental health, and I just love focusing on developing functional strength and challenging my body to move and engage in new ways.
It's so, so rewarding to me and I, I wanted that knowledge to go deeper. I wanted to build out my understanding of strength and fitness and nutrition in a way that I didn't really. I, I didn't really have that knowledge previously. You know, I knew the basics.
I knew kind of those foundational, like high school biology conversations, but I wanted an in depth understanding of those processes. And I knew that I could just get on Google and find a lot of the information that I wanted. But I think that there's something really valuable about having a structured curriculum to follow.
I think most of us are pretty lacking when it comes to understanding how to scaffold and build a framework of knowledge so that you can best understand a topic. You know, I think that having a structured curriculum developed by someone who has an intimate understanding of an industry or topic is incredibly valuable.
Yes. I probably could have gotten a lot of information off of Google just from, you know, doing some preliminary searches or looking at topics that are of particular interest to me. But I think that often we are actually within culture here in the U S we are really prone to say, Oh, I've researched this, and by that, it means we've looked up one thing about one aspect of a thing. And when you're dealing with something as broad and complex as exercise and wellness and nutrition, it's really hard to know what you don't know and what you need to be researching.
So having like a fully fleshed out curriculum and textbook is super, super helpful if it's available to you. And so that's something that I'm still working through. It's completely self-paced and I've had a lot on my plate recently. So I'm about halfway through those programs a little bit over, maybe about three quarters of the way through those programs. Uh, so yeah, and then investing quite a bit of time in developing my understanding of exercise and nutrition, and that's been really rewarding on a personal level.
It hasn't so much influenced my content. Yet. Yet... that's a hint. Didn't really influence my content yet, but it's definitely been really rewarding and meaningful to have that knowledge and going into the gym with some of that context. And some of that anatomy, physiology knowledge as I'm exercising has changed the way that I approach structuring my website or... my website? Well, worlds are colliding. No, it's changed some of the ways that I've structured my workouts and sequence my workouts throughout the week.
Third big step forward for 2020 is starting this podcast. Hurray. I'm here. Hi. I have thrown around the idea of starting a podcast quite a bit. And if you've been around since the days where my website was known as BlakeWrites, uh, the domain that I started everything under, you know, there was a period of time early on where I also floated around this idea of recording a podcast. And, you know, I was, I was looking for a co-host and, we actually ended up recording, I think like eight or nine episodes.
It was me and, uh, one of our regular contributors at the time, Neko. And ultimately that podcast just didn't really pan out. We ended up just kind of having issues getting our schedules to align. And I think that we went into it with a really... we lacked a clear concept and focused. And so a lot of the podcast ended up feeling improvised and it just, there was definitely some gems in there, but it didn't feel like a complete thought.
And as many podcasts as there are on the market right now, you really can't break out and find a foothold with a new audience if your podcast is just kind of all over the place and doesn't have a clear purpose and clear audience. So ultimately that those first eight or nine episodes just got saved in a folder in Google drive.
And they're probably just going to stay there until Google implodes or whatever. So, that got put on the back burner for a while, but then coming into this year, especially after coach training, I hired on a growth manager who handles all of our social media. Her name is Victoria. She's amazing. And. In, in some of my conversations with Victoria, I floated the idea of saying like, you know, I think it would be fun to do a podcast.
I've liked this idea of doing a podcast, but I'm just not sure. And she was really kind of instrumental in saying like, yeah, a lot of coaches and writers and website owners do a podcast in some form. And I think that that's something you're interested in having a clear concept for it. I can promote it on social media and it can be a decent way to reach a new audience, new segment of our audience.
And so with her nudge, I was like, well, let me dust off my old microphone and see what I can do. And so here we are: Finding Fulfillment's podcast. It came out of some of those conversations and really as an extension of the book that I wrote this summer, which is the next item on the list that I'm going to be talking about of accomplishments.
But I, I really enjoyed podcasting and sitting down here in my office and talking through some of the topics that have been either heavy on my mind recently, or instrumental in the research that I've been doing. Because I think that so often, especially in like the self-improvement and personal development spaces, we see these podcasts pop up about, you know, living your best life and being super successful and the host and the way that the content is presented, it's done in a way where it's like, "Oh, look at me. I'm super awesome. And perfect. And if you just do this really nebulous. Abstract stuff that requires you to have a lot of money up front and opportunities that you can also be awesome and successful."
And I, I don't want, sorry for the shaking on the camera. I just kicked my desk. I don't want to fall into the trap of doing that.
And I don't want a podcast-- as a listener, I don't want to listen to podcasts that take that approach. And so for me, creating this podcast felt like a really good opportunity to basically just sit down and have conversations with you through the medium. I'm sitting alone in my office and talking to a microphone, but have these conversations with you about, you know, some of these aspects of fulfillment and what it means to feel accomplished and proud about what you're doing in life in a way that's really accessible. And doesn't depend upon you already having a foot in the door or already having opportunities available to you that only 1% of people do.
You know, I have a lot of privilege in life as a CIS, white man with a middle class income. And even in that position with all the privilege that comes with that, there's so many times where I listened to some of these other podcasts in this space and just feel like, yeah, that's, that's good advice, but in what world am I, in rural Kentucky, going to have the opportunities to do ABC or whatever, you know? I have to buy my groceries; I can't afford to put down $5,000 into this training program or certification or whatever. And so, yeah, it's important to me that there should be a podcast and a resource that's like, accessible and focuses on what is within all of our attainment to do. And what can we do to look internally to find some of that sense of fulfillment that doesn't depend upon like upselling or having opportunities that most of us just don't have.
Speaking of upselling and in every episode I kind of shoe horn in my book, and I hope that as listeners, you know, that I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek, very much in the vein of like the first six or seven seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, where at least once per episode, RuPaul would be like, "my new album, Glamazon, available now on iTunes," you know, very that.
I think that if you're listening to this podcast, you should get value out of it, whether or not you buy my book. Obviously I want you to buy my book because that means a little bit of extra cash for me to keep everything operating, and also I put a lot of work into my book.
I think it's valuable. But I don't think you have to buy my book or do coaching with me or anything like that to get value out of this podcast. And that's really important for me and something that I'm going to continue on into 2021. Also, as I mentioned now, I'm going to talk about my book. I've got a copy right here next to me.
If you're watching this on YouTube, you can see it on screen. It is Big Picture Living: A Guide to Finding Fulfillment (Even When Everything Sucks) by Blake Reichenbach. You can get physical copies on Barnes and Noble, as you can see here on screen. If you're listening in on the podcast, I'll give you some audio.
You can just that sound good. Let's kind of flip through the pages a little bit. (Editors note: during this section of rambling, Blake was holding the book next to the microphone and flipping pages. I don't know why I thought this was a good idea or that it would be at all decent for the transcript... dude.)
It's not a very long book. It's only about I think 200 and some pages. Oh, not even that. If you read the afterword, it's right at 200. So not a super long book. It's a quick read. I've gotten some really positive reviews of the book.
And actually just because I'm really, really proud of it, I'm going to pull up some of those reviews really quickly and just read you a couple of them because when I get a new review on my book, it just, it makes my heart swell. So I've got one here. The title is "loved this book." It's a five star review.
And it reads, "Big Picture Living is superbly well-written with personal stories that are raw and relatable. Each chapter is punctuated with wisdom from genius writers and scientists about why humans behave the way we do. The book also includes tangible exercises, resources, and Blake's own email address for readers to get in touch. Reading and reflecting on each chapter put my priorities into perspective and inspired me. To be more vulnerable in pursuit of what I care about. I highly recommend this book for anyone."
And there's also a fabulous picture associated with this book showing it laid out next to a very, very handsome cat. When I first read that review, it honestly made me want to tear up a little bit, especially where the reviewer wrote, "reflecting on each chapter, put my priorities into perspective and inspired me to be more vulnerable in pursuit of what I care about."
That is that is the entire reason I wrote this book.
I structured it roughly into three sections. You know, I, I think that the line between those sections, it's kind of hazy and practice, but in terms of reading the book, it's structured into three parts where I started by talking about insight and what it means to develop a sense of self-awareness to understand why we do what we do. And it's rooted in a behavioral, cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral sciences.
And from there after we've established that foundation, we move into the topic of shame resilience. And for me, it was really important to include a section on shame resilience, because I think that often when we're working on building the life that we want, which is a phrase that I use a lot in the book and on my website, And I think here in this podcast too, is this idea of building the life that you want, where you're actively putting in the work to turn your life from what it is now into something you can be really proud of, but what we're going through that process, the biggest hurdle for many of us is shame.
And that sounds a bit counter intuitive, and I think, for many of us, we don't necessarily realize where we encounter shame in our lives, but we sell ourselves so short and we cut off opportunities for ourselves because of some of these issues we face that are rooted in a sense of shame. So there's, there's a section devoted specifically to understanding how shame functions and what shame resilience looks like. And of course, plenty of references to Brené Brown in that section. And then the final section of the book is about identifying and implementing your core values. So the way that the book is structured, the idea is you start by getting a sense of. Who you are and how you operate in the present.
That's that section on insight, then you shift and look at, okay, moving forward, what are some of the things that could be in my way and how can I approach that in a healthy way? And then we get into core values and that's where we say, okay, what is significant for me? What is really important? What is so important that it is a part of my core identity.
And as I identify that, how can I live that out? How can I make those values a part of my daily life in a more impactful way? So that I'm fulfilled by the way that I'm living. And you know, of course, like I mentioned, that idea of feeling fulfilled and feeling like you're living out your core values is kind of what stuck with me and resonated and ultimately became this podcast.
But that's the third section of the book. That's the longest section of the book. It's my favorite section of the book. You know, I think the psychology of self-awareness and shame is super fascinating and super, super important, but it's really where we get into values and, and what it looks like to live according to your values.
Right. I think that's where things get really interesting, and it's something that most of us have a general concept of, but we don't always recognize what it looks like in our own lives. And so that's, that's what that third section is about. Um, super fun to write super, super fun to write.
And, you know, as, as the review, uh, stated it can, it can help. It can really help you put things into perspective and be willing to choose to live in accordance to what is most important to you. So writing Big Picture Living was probably my biggest accomplishment of 2020. I am so proud of that book.
I love that book and you know, I of course wish, wish that I would've sold more copies by now, but each copy that I have sold has been well received and I've gotten really positive feedback on it. And it's easy for me to think, you know, I wish I had sold more. I wish that people were buying this book so much that I could retire whatever, but one of my core values is creativity.
And I created this book because I love to create, if I make money off of it, that's a bonus. You know, it kind of gives it a plus one, but if I just wanted to get wealthy, there are much easier, faster, and practical ways to get wealthy than writing a book. You know, if it was just about the money. I would have gone in a dozen different directions before choosing to write a book.
I chose to do that because I love it. I love to create.
With all of that said the high points and successes and benchmarks of 2020 have gotten me really interested in what 2021 is going to look like. You know, in the past, I've kind of played it by ear and winged it going into the new year, especially in relation to my website and you know, my own creative endeavors and I think going into 2021, that's not really, that's not really the plan this year.
There actually is a plan this year. It's not just to wing it. And I'm not going to be entirely forthcoming. Uh, gotta drop some hints and say that, you know, be on the lookout for some announcements from us. Um, and I'll say that I've been invested in the product design and development phase of a project that I think is going to be really, really interesting and has the potential to be really impactful and kind of shift our direction as, as a brand once again, in a really healthy and positive way.
Going into 2021, we're going to keep recording these podcasts. Uh, I'll probably do about 18 episodes for season one and then take a month or two off and start recording season two. But. Podcasts will be ongoing into 2021. Of course, there's going to be new.
Can you all hear that? Like, I'm sure that as I'm editing this, I'm going to hate this section so much because my dog is being so loud. So loud. He's so precious though. I love him and I can't be mad at him for disrupting a podcast, but yeah.
Anyway, podcast started going into 2021, uh, more written content coming out in 2021.
I've taken a little bit of a hiatus from writing new articles on the Self-Himprovement website, so that I could focus on recording the podcast and learning what that looks like and how to produce podcasts in a way that's productive and efficient and preserves my sanity. So that's been an ongoinglearning process. I'm by no means an audio or video editor, so I've been kind of struggling through that, but, you know, getting more practiced, getting a better grip of it. Big shout out to the software platform Descript, that has made my transcripts and audio editing so much easier than I initially anticipated. I'm very glad that I invested in Descript, but yeah, I know I'm at a point now where I can record an edit and produce each episode fairly quickly.
So I've got time to get back into writing long form content, and I've got some really cool content planned to write this year. You know, I'm, I'm particularly interested in, well, a couple of different topics, one of them being the idea of connectedness and disconnecting.
I've had several conversations recently with folks who have reported that they are on their devices and they're online more than they would like, you know, especially with most of us working from home. Uh, there are a lot of people who are on their computers all day for work, and then they're on their phone for leisure and it feels like they are having a hard time quieting their mind.
They're having a hard time getting disconnected, going offline and just being in a quiet, focused analog state. And so that's something that we're gonna be exploring quite quite heavily this year. I, uh, I also am going to be writing a bit more about wellness, you know, as I hinted by getting way too close to my microphone, my, uh, personal training training and nutrition training has really given me some new ideas for things that I want to write about.
Also full transparency, about 80% of the revenue that I've made through the self-improvement website comes from a single article. It comes from a review that I did about the product Athletic Greens and affiliate sales on that article have been my like only meaningful source of revenue through the website so far.
You know, ad space, Amazon affiliates... that's like 10 tens of dollars per month. Um, whereas the affiliate sales on Athletic Greens can come up to, you know, a a hundred or so, which, you know, not much, but it's enough that it's noticeable and and knowing how well that piece has resonated with my audience, i think that there's a really big opportunity to lean into that and to kind of flesh out some more discussions of wellness and nutrition in a way that's catered to our readers.
And more importantly, in a way that's that's body positive. I know that the term body positivity gets thrown around more often than it probably should, but I think that it's really important that we have a space to learn about wellness and think about our bodies in a way that isn't rooted in looking one specific way. I think that if we route all of our conversations around fitness and nutrition in this idea of the purpose of doing this is to look a specific way to meet a specific aesthetic, I think we do ourselves a disservice. I think we end up setting ourselves up for failure, first and foremost. Most people do not realize how much work and time it takes to get in shape and develop musculature and, you know, lose weight.
So we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves about what we can do and how quickly we can do it. But on top of that, our bodies are so interesting. The human body is fascinating. And for many people, fitting a certain aesthetic or, you know, conventional beauty standards, it's just, it's just not going to happen.
We're just not made that way. And that's okay. We can still improve our mobility. We can still reduce chronic muscle fatigue and muscle aches. We can build our functional strength so that our bodies just feel more capable. And, you know, for those of us who have had issues with body dysmorphia, when you get to a point where you can exercise for the sake of caring for and maintaining your body, it strengthens your connection to your body and the respect that you have for your body, and makes it easier to avoid destructive behaviors.
So I'll say that I'm going to be exploring wellness kind of within that lens and flushing out some of those ideas a bit more. And that's something that I'm really curious about diving into and getting into, uh, because you know, of course I write about things that interests me and that I think will interest my audience.
At the same time, I'm also an SEO specialist and do a lot of digital marketing for my day job. And so as much as I want to just write about things that I'm interested in, I also write from the perspective of, okay, what's going to be most engaging from an audience perspective? What's going to be, you know, showing up in Google search results?
And so there's an element of recognizing that wellness is difficult to write about because a lot of web traffic for it is going to be coming in off of queries specific to weight loss, or specific workout routines, which isn't really what I'm interested in writing. So negotiating that and figuring out what's going to work, it's going to be really interesting, but.
It's still it's, it's exciting. And I'm looking forward to creating that content in 2021. And I hope that you're, I hope that you're interested in reading it and hearing more about it. Um, but I also want in 2021, speaking of you and your interest, I want to hear from you more. I want to hear from my audience more, I want my audience to ask me questions. I want my audience to, you know, approach me with either problems that they're having or situations that they want some guidance on. And, you know, I want us to be able to talk that out and specifically focus on some of the topics that you are interested in.
You know, for example, if you're interested in coming on the podcast and essentially doing an episode, that's just a coaching session where you can talk about, you know, a project you're working on or something that you're stuck on, or you know, where you're feeling stuck in life, and we can just do a, essentially a coaching episode... Fantastic. Let's do it.
Of course. If you want, just like one-on-one private coaching that does not become a podcast or become anything that can be used on my website, of course I'm available for one-on-one coaching. Um, if you do it as a podcast episode, though, it's totally free. So, you know, I want to be responding to my audience more.
I want to be researching and writing and advising on the topics that interest You. So please come to me with any of that feedback, reach out through my email address, through the contact form on my website. There's also a Google form link on the website where you can essentially just fill out the form.
You can do it anonymously if you want. And you know, I'll respond to that, respond to that feedback and either a blog post or a podcast episode. So there are options. There are plenty of ways to get in touch, and I hope that you do. And so. You know, please reach out. Let's talk, let's have a conversation, but I hope that I get to do more of that in 2021.
That's something that I really enjoy is consulting and coaching. Um, but you know, we'll... we will see what the future holds. So I'm going to go ahead and wrap things up because I'm technically at work right now. If you're my manager and watching this, I'm sorry. I took some time out of my day to record this on the clock.
Forgive me. Oops. But yeah, emails to answer. You've probably heard some of my Slack notifications dinging in the background and I should get back to that. So enjoy your day. Enjoy your week. Enjoy the holidays. And yeah, reach out to me with your questions, comments, and concerns. Have a great day, everybody.