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The 2018 Year-End Reflection

The One Hour Writing Exercise to Help You Appreciate Your Wins, Identify Your Weaknesses and Plan For A High-Impact 2019.

A few years ago, I started what I assume will be a annual tradition for myself.

It’s called a Year-End Reflection.

During this time of year, we tend focus on what’s next in the coming year.

While planning for the future is a good a move, we can’t forget to reflect on the previous 12-months because it shows us what’s working, what’s not working and where we can better employ our energy.

What’s a year-end reflection?

Taking time to reflect on the past is an underrated act. Why? Because the past leaves clues. These insights can save us a lot of time, energy and resources if we use them to influence our decisions moving forward.

In sport, this is a critical aspect of success. The coaching staff requires the team to watch game film to dissect what went well and what went wrong. By doing so, it reveals strengths and weaknesses. This act of watching game film helps the players (and coaching staff) learn from its past and course correct for the future.

Without watching the game film — or performing a review — the team and its leadership are simply guessing on what the best strategies and tactics will be moving forward.

The same concept can be applied to our personal lives. The dynamic is different and probably takes more discipline because you and I are both the coach and the player in our own game. To combat this limiting factor, it’s wise to keep this exercise as simple as possible.

In order to do a year-end reflection, ask yourself three simple questions:

1. What went well in 2018? (What were my wins? What did I do right? What shall I continue to do?)

2. What didn’t go well in 2018? (Where did I come up short? What needs improvement?)

3. What needs to get edited in 2019? (Where do I need to get rid off? What do I need to stop doing? What needs to be cut from my life?)

Below I share my answers to demonstrate the year-end reflection:

What went well in 2018? (What were my wins? What did I do right? What shall I continue to do?)

A. Top writer on Medium

Writing is one of my priorities. While accolades are simply a by-product of the work and not the reason why I write, it’s always nice to be recognized for your effort.

And since Medium is one of the few places where good content is published, I’m proud to say that I was selected as a top writer on this platform in the following areas:

  • Mental Health
  • Poetry
  • Inspiration
  • Love
  • Life Lessons

B. Value-Driven Instagram Posts

In 2018, I made this decision to use my Instagram account as a tool to teach.

In other words, the majority of what I create and post on my mcfaddenfitness IG page is value-driven.

I figured since Instagram has a few more daily visits than my own site, I might as well just publish all my best work there.

I really enjoy teaching through this platform because it forces me to be precise, practical and direct.

I’ve been posting daily, so if you like short, simple and usable advice on all things fitness and health, follow me on Instagram.

C. Us Versus Anxiety

Us Versus Anxiety is close to my heart. It’s a story-based brand that unifies people across different backgrounds, experiences and circumstances.

From a story-telling perspective, I think it’s the best (and shortest) story I’ve ever written.

These three words — Us Versus Anxiety — puts a narrative around what many people are already feeling.

It also invites you to join a tribe of like-minded and season-similar group of people. Meaning, the story strikes a deep emotional chord that is tied to our need of belonging.

This started as a little personal project for me in the last quarter of this year. But the response has been really great and several conversations with other people have lead me to believe that there is room for growth with this project.

For more details about this project and information on how you can get involved, click here.

In 2019, I’ll explore what direction Us Versus Anxiety will take.


I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. During this journey, I’ve created a “playbook” that coaches the whole person and not just components of them. It’s called The THRIVE METHOD.

I think its one of the most effective methods for peak performance, athletic development and overall health.

This is largely why I was invited to come out to Japan.

My friend Josh Childress needed someone to train him in the gym with a sport-specific program, provide high-nutrient meals backed by sports nutrition principles, keep him accountable with targeted recovery strategies and assist him in his mindset development.

The THRIVE METHOD checks all of these boxes.

Below is a breakdown of the THRIVE METHOD that I posted on my Instagram account:

I came out to Japan for a specific reason.
During my stay here, I’ll be working with my friend Josh Childress. I’m going to be handling his training, nutrition, regeneration and mindset development while he plays for the Japanese B League Pro Team, Neo Pheonix.
We’ll be utilizing what I call the Thrive Method. This is a “playbook” I’ve developed over my 10 years in the industry. The Thrive Method is built on 4 pillars
1. Mindset. You need to train your brain everyday. All it takes is 10 minutes. This one habit has massive potential. It helps with focus, creativity, productivity, compassion and emotional flexibility. In regards to body-composition, it helps regulate cortisol levels which is important regardless of what your particular goal is. In regards to sports performance, meditation also improves our ability to not “over-identify” with thoughts or emotions. Meaning, we get better at noticing our thoughts/emotions without getting swallowed up by them.
2. Regeneration. The training we do in the gym relies heavily on how well we can recover from the stress we put on the body and mind. The end goal is transference. We want the training to be realized on the court. Therefore we place a high value on recovery nutrition, contrast therapy and sleep. But if you’re interested in looking good, performing well and feeling even better, you need to make regeneration a priority.
3. Nutrition. Don’t complicate this. You need to focus on quality to get your micronutrients. You need to also focus on quantity to hit your macronutrients. BOTH are important. (I’ll be meal prepping his food to make sure this happens).
4. Movement. The training program I have him on his sport specific. Meaning, the plan is to realize and increase athletic potential so it transfers to the court.

***Note: Being around basketball again has really opened my eyes to the opportunities in the game around sports nutrition, evidence-based athletic training, mindset development and recovery.

I wrote down a few phrases the other day while thinking about the game of basketball and The THRIVE METHOD:

a. Athletes can’t afford to do random workouts

b. Athletes can’t afford to follow random nutrition plans

c. Athletes can’t afford to perform random recovery routines

If you’re a coach, player, athletic director, skills coach (or involved with the game at any level), and you feel like the THRIVE METHOD is something you’re interested in, let’s connect. Email me and I’ll reply so we can set up a time to chat.

E. Life Lessons Learned in Japan

Japan has provided a radically different living experience than what me and my family are accustomed to.

During my time here thus far, here’s what I’ve learned:

Mental models are the way we think about things in the real world. We use mental models to relate to our own perspectives. There are thousands of mental models, but the sake of this post, I want to share and highlight one of them: Forcing function(s).
Forcing functions are defined as any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.
Since arriving in Japan, forcing function(s) have really impacted my perspective, productivity and passion.
1. Perspective. We downsized the major areas of our life. We had a bigger home in the United States but now we live in a two bedroom apartment. And guess what? We’re fine. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s better that we have less space. It forces us to be mindful of our consumption. Living in smaller quarters means we have less of everything unessential (clothes, the junk drawers, the nik-naks, etc).
2. Productivity. Prior to coming to Japan I audited my energy and attention. In other words, I took a close look at how I would spend my energy/attention each day while I was out here. I committed to doing less in order to be better in the areas I’ve said “yes” to. The forcing function in this case was based on research I discovered on energy management. For most people across different mediums (athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, etc) the threshold for complex work each day is about 4 hours. Meaning, it’s wisdom to figure how to use your best hours each day to get the best return. Each and everyday I plan my 4 hours around my most demanding tasks that I need to get done.
3. Passion. I’m in Japan do to a specific job which also acts as the forcing function. Within the proverbial walls of this assignment, my goal is to add value and increase peak performance. This hyper-specific environment has confirmed my passion and accurately reflects my personal purpose in life: To help others become the most adaptive and resilient versions of themselves.
Last words: When we get comfortable, consider changing things up. When we think we have it figured out, get in a situation where you don’t have all the answers. When we think our ways are the only ways, find a place to see things from a different angle.

F. Working Out Once a Day (And in the Best Shape of My Life)

This is huge personal win for me. I’ve battled with letting the gym control my life for years. In other words, I’ve normally had the urge to do 2, sometimes 3 sessions per day thinking that more is better.

Better is better. Period.

And in my case, being in top physical and mental shape during the season of life that I am in means 60–70 minutes of focused work in the gym once per day 4–5x per week.

Me at almost 34 years old.

This is what I look like today (I have no idea how much I weigh or what my body-fat level is). But, I feel like a beast in the gym and I like what I see in the mirror. So, I’m happy.

2. What didn’t go well in 2018? (Where did I come up short? What needs improvement?)

I haven’t managed my email list (that includes you) very well in 2018. I apologize for this lack of management.

Part of the reason why I haven’t been emailing you regularly is because I want to make sure my newsletters are useful.

Therefore, I stopped emailing you because I felt like my approach wasn’t tight, direct and practical.

But I have an idea for 2019. Once, maybe twice a month, I’m thinking about sending you a newsletter titled, Simple Advice for Complex Times.

Simple Advice for Complex Times will be no gimmicks, and no spam — just me sharing my best stuff. If you want honest strategies, proven tactics and useful stories to simplify your fitness, skyrocket your focus and upgrade your health, then this email newsletter if for you.

The concept of this newsletter is to be short, direct and useful.

I would do this by curating all of my Instagram posts into newsletter jam-packed with actionable advice and practical strategies to help you become the most adaptive and resilient version of yourself.

What do you think? Would a newsletter of this ilk be something you open and read?

3. What needs to get edited in 2019? (Where do I need to get rid off? What do I need to stop doing? What needs to be cut from my life?)

I need to say “no” to most things in 2019.

I’ve created momentum around some important projects in my life and now it’s time to go “airplane mode” on these few things in order to potentiate each of them.

I re-read a book this month called Wabi-Sabi for artists, designers, poets & philosophers and there’s are a few words in this book that I’ve coined as my True North for 2019:

“Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize.”

Favorite Things of 2018

Favorite quote:

“Don’t be afraid of the work that has no end.” -Avot de Rabbi Natan

Favorite book:

Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of The Samurai

Goodbye 2018. Hello 2019.

Thanks for reading.

If you write up your own Year-End Reflection, I’d love to read it and share ideas based on each of our own reflections. Email me at

You can join the Simple Advice for Complex Times newsletter by clicking here.

  • Brian

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