My 2022 Annual Review
Among the books I read last year was James Clear’s Atomic Habits, in which he mentioned the idea of writing an annual review. I’ve seen different formats for this, so I’m combining a few to create my own version. The idea is to publish a transparent and public review of the previous year, identifying themes, celebrating milestones, reflecting on goals and ambitions, identifying areas to improve, and to pose open questions.
My son, Luka, was born on Thanksgiving. We were hosting this year with 20-ish people coming over for turkey and pie. The night before, Sara’s water broke while we ate dinner on the couch, and this happy little turkey joined us just after midnight. Welcoming a boy to our family has been a challenging, yet magical experience. It’s emotional to know that he’ll carry on our family name, and I’ll be able to pass down our Slava to him when he’s older. The inevitable challenge of having two kids under 3 years old is painfully real, but I catch myself relishing in beautiful moments of the routine.
I sold my business on the 1st day of the year. It was the culmination of 12 years of sacrifice and building, and the end of a pivotal chapter in my life. I started Preemo is early 2009, just as we had entered a recession (great timing), after losing a well paying job as an IT Director. The original premise was to build a chain for computer repair stores, and provide IT services to residential customers. I opened our first TechBar location in South Miami, and another in Key Biscayne. While those businesses did well, the real gold was in our expansion to supporting local businesses, and eventually evolving into a Managed Service Provider (basically, an IT company that provides services under monthly recurring contracts). The business helped amass an incredible network of professionals who gave us their trust, but also became mentors and friends. Along the journey, I sold the TechBar retail business, and also licensed my patent for that brand. Ultimately, I was approached by Thrive Networks and we put a deal together to sell the business.
I wasn’t properly prepared for the subsequent wave of seller’s remorse, guilt, confusion, and euphoria. The first few months were a blur of integration, but as the dust settled, I experienced a wave a calm I desperately needed. I heard the same questions repeatedly:
“How do you feel?” - I’m at peace closing that chapter of my life. To date, I’m still positive I made the right decision with the information I had available.
“How did your employees/clients take it?” - Understandably, both were surprised and scared, although I let both know with several weeks notice. I’m grateful that they both respectfully to the time to understand, ask questions, and work though the process just like I did. We retained nearly every employee and client over the last year.
“So what are you going to do next?” - I (still) don’t know, but I’m actively exploring a lot of areas of interest, and keeping a journal of ideas that I’ll ultimately reflect on, have a good laugh, then do something totally different.
It was a bittersweet, but in hindsight, I think I gave this episode a proper ending.
I lost 30 lbs. I haven’t see >199 lbs on the scale since probably high school, so that became the #1 objective for the year. While I’m a habitual goal-setter, this one recurring annual challenge always seems to escape me (read: I’m not willing to prioritize it). I committed to making this year different.
I built a gym in my garage and hired a trainer.
I tried a number of diet modifications: Intermittent fasting (16:8 consistently), tracking on My Fitness Pal (half the year), reduced sugar intake (maybe 25%), and trying to manage macros (lots to work on here)
I committed to only 2 days per week of drinking, which I was 92% consistent on all year. Used a habit tracking app called Done to keep track.
I started using a glucose monitor by Levels near the end of the year. This led to me hiring a nutritionist to understand the readings better. Still trying to get hang of it; it’s tough to be consistent and slightly confusing.
Other stuff: ice baths (it’s really hard, but I love it), cold showers (almost daily), running (1% success), Pickleball (love it so much I’m building a court at my house).
I decided to invest in a restaurant group. More on that in a forthcoming post.
What could have gone better:
My body hurts. Working out 4+ times a week has been a blessing, but I haven’t nailed recovery yet. I’m not stretching regularly, which is certainly contributing, and I’m rebooting a body that hasn’t had consistent movement in 10+ years. The ice baths are still very difficult, and I resist doing them regularly. I’m exploring ways of adding recovery in to my routine, both in terms of nutrition and physical manipulation.
My identity surrounding Preemo has faded. I’ve always been “Ivan from Preemo” or something to that effect. With the sale of the business went that perception, although I did add “guy who sold a business” to my resume. It feels strange in professional circles when someone asks me what I do, and even more confusing when they ask what I’m doing next. I don’t know. I wasn’t properly prepared for a life without my business, and building a new identity on something necessary on the horizon.
What am I working towards:
Less distraction, more focus. I think this is the top goal for the year. I’ve recognized that I’m not giving proper attention in moments I enjoy, like those with my family. I’m connecting this to my aspirations of meditation, something that has also escaped me for years. I’m confident that if I can learn to calm my mind for a few mins a day, this will translate into a less distracted life.
Goal 1: 2 minutes of meditation per day (tracked by app)
Goal 2: Progressively declining cell phone use (tracked by app)
Build new relationships.
Run a 5K.Run a 10K. This one got off to a good start. I’ve never been a running, and frankly never found a way to enjoy running. I forgot I signed up for the United Way Amarant Bank 5K, and it snuck up on me at the end of January. With a few days training, and my good friend Jorge Dona running with me, I completed the 5K without stopping (a first for me). So I’ll upgrade this to running a 10K before the end of the year, without stopping.
Create more content. My blog has sat idle for years (except this one post about selling my business), so this year I’m committed to writing more, and exploring other content formats more. A podcast or YouTube channel (or both) is a reach target for sure, but in the interim, publishing at least once per month, or 12 total this year is a good place to start.
Remain consistent with goals. All of the above is in addition to my current routine, not in replacement of. The exercise and health-related goal will continue, the focus on finding my next project will be top of mind, and I’ll actively seek to be the best husband and father possible. None of that changes.
Bonus: Practice language more. I’ve lost a lot of my Serbian language skills as a result of not speaking it often at home, or even to my parents. It kills me internally to know that this part of my background might die with me, and my kids may never get to really learn the language the way I did. I’m going to make it a point to speak Serbian with my parents, and encourage them to speak it to my kids as well. I’ll also sprinkle in some Duolingo Spanish to make sure I’m honing that as well.
Last year is going to be hard to beat, with two major milestones in my life occurring in the same year. I’m focused on continually growing and learning, and creating a life that’s aligned with the future I want.
That’s it. Time to get to work.
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