My 2017 Personal Year in Review

I love this time of year. The anticipation of a clean-slate we call a New Year always energizes me. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to take a pause, look back at what has been accomplished, and reflect on the power of our experiences and how they shape who we are and who we wish to become.

This is my 2017 personal recap.

In February, I started EMDR therapy which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a psychotherapy treatment originally designed in the late 80’s to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. The word trauma was new to me and frankly never seemed to fit my personal circumstances but I now understand and appreciate the definition with fine detail. I had been to several therapists over the past couple of years in an effort to help ease my growing anxiety and depression. Traditional talk therapy didn’t work for me and I always ended up leaving feeling worse. EMDR therapy was completely different. EMDR is designed to facilitate the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and adverse life experiences and bring these to an adaptive resolution. As part of the EMDR process, I was able to get in-touch with several experiences, behaviors, habits, and emotions that were holding me back. Mastery comes most when you need to write out your thoughts and/or teach somebody else. You seldom know what you know until you have to explain it to others. If you can’t, you probably don’t truly comprehend. The process of explaining myself to another human wasn’t easy but it was incredibly rewarding and aren’t those two statements so often linked? I saw my therapist weekly for 7 months. Mental therapy is not something I’ll likely ever be “done” with but I’m really proud of the strides I made in 2017. Mostly, I’m proud I prioritized this work.

In March, I found a personal trainer near my office and started working out a few times per week. Mental and physical health are so tightly linked and I’m proud of the work I did in 2017 to become for physically fit. I’m a pretty disciplined person so keeping myself honest on the first and second set isn’t a problem but that third set…that’s a whole different story. Having a trainer holding me accountable to push beyond my pre-conceived mental limit was a really profound break-thru. We mostly did body resistance exercises but I also began formal weightlifting for the first time. It was challenging and rewarding all at the same time. While I’m proud of the work, I got super busy with work and travel in the Fall and subsequently quit going to the trainer. My extensive collection of size M t-shirts no longer fit the way I would like so I’ll be back to prioritizing my sessions in 2018.

I saw and listened to a ton of great music in 2017. Some new, some old. Saw live shows with Dawes, Counting Crows, The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Head & the Heart, Amos Lee with the Indianapolis Symphony, Dan Layus, Gin Blossoms, Nathaniel Ratcliffe, Zac Brown, Will Hoge, Honey Honey, The Why Store, and many more. I also listened to a ton of new music (over 2500 different songs from 1100 different artists, according to Spotify) and I continue to be inspired by musicians with a story to tell. There are lots of artists I go back to over and over again but I’m equally excited by that new song or new artist that I’m hearing for the very first time. I’m so thankful for music in my life.

In August, I celebrated the one year anniversary of my father’s death. Celebrate doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate word but sometimes survival is the only reason you need to celebrate. It was a hard year in this category of my life. The further time ticked on in the year, the more difficultly I had hearing my Dad’s voice and the more I longed for it. When something good happens in my life, I still have to stop myself midway through dialing to call him. Just this week, as I was ticking through my list of remaining Christmas gifts to buy, I found myself wanting to buy something for my Dad.

In October, I took a hunting trip to South Dakota with my Aunt Deborah, Uncle Randy, and my friends Kristian, Kelly, and Scott. Despite it being a blast (ha, get it) I’m proud of this one because it was a great expression of my push to be more vulnerable in my relationships this year. I find it hard to ask people I don’t know that well to do things socially. And I had never been hunting. In the past, that might have been just enough to keep me away and I’m so glad it didn’t this time. The hunting was exhilarating, the camaraderie of our group on and off the field was beyond tremendous, and I left South Dakota inspired to be an even better version of myself. And isn’t that the definition of what great friendships are all about…people inspiring you to be the very best person you can be? I sure think so. The trip ended up being one of the best experiences I’ve ever been a part of and another great reminder of the power of vulnerability.

At work, we’ve started 12 new software companies in 2.5 years at High Alpha and have invested in 21 companies. I’m really proud of that work. I love working with my 3 partners. They are great men and I learn something new from each of them every single day. And we are also so fortunate to be able to work with a group of incredible CEO’s, leadership teams, and hundreds of awesome employees across High Alpha and the High Alpha portfolio of companies.

In addition to High Alpha, I also started a new company this year that has nothing to do with technology — a real estate company called Perfect Blue Buildings. My business partner Todd and I bought a couple of houses and we’re renovating them to sell. It’s totally awesome to learn a new type of business. It’s much harder than HDTV makes it out to be. :) In addition, I’m in the process of starting an early childcare academy in downtown Indy that will open in late 2018. I’m pumped about it because it’s a great business, there is a huge need, and I really like the positive impact it’s going to have for working mothers and families.

I was lucky to do a fair amount of travel in 2017. I visited Austin, Boulder, Charleston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Louisville, Michigan City, San Francisco, and Seattle. In fact, most of these I visited more than once throughout the year. I’m sure to be back in the air in 2018 and I hope to see many of you along the journey.

With every day comes the promise of hope and that is multiplied by the turning of the calendar to January 1st — staring at a wide open year ahead. So much will happen, good and bad, and I will learn and grow and laugh and cry in my attempt to live life to the fullest. I tell myself to remember to always offer a hand to anyone who may lose sight of that. I’m thankful for all of it and really looking forward to 2018. Happy New Year.

Eric is a 3x Founder w/ 3 exits and is currently a Partner at High Alpha, a venture studio, where he focuses on early-stage SaaS/enterprise start-ups.