Oh The Places You Will Go

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The two pictures above tell a story…

One was taken on the day I graduated law school in 1992. I walked across the stage at Lincoln Center in NYC and as I approached to grab my diploma, the Dean leaned into the microphone and said, “man, I wish I had this kid’s grades when I graduated law school.” I was magna cum laude, top 5, Law Review, blah, blah, blah. I wasn’t smarter than anyone else, I just worked insanely hard to get there.

The world lay at my feet. Money, power, prestige. Whatever I wanted. That’s why I was smiling.

The second picture was taken in 2006, 14 years later. A few years earlier, I’d left my position as an associate at one of the top law firms in the world. Traded six-figures, Armani suits and hand shakes for bare feet, t-shirts and hugs hello. I was leading a yoga retreat in St. John, Virgin Islands at an eco-resort called Maho Bay. Every day, a small group that blended students from the yoga studio I owned in NYC with others from around the world would wake up, climb to an elevated platform, meditate and practice yoga under a thatched-roof, open-air pavilion.

I’d abandoned everything I thought I wanted, everything that lay at my feet in the first picture.

I’d realized what makes me happy isn’t money, power and prestige, but rather the opportunity to:

  • Engage in activities that make me come alive,
  • Surround myself with people I can’t get enough of and
  • Earn enough to live well in the world.

That’s why I was smiling…well, that and the fact that I was getting paid to hang out with great people, bare foot in paradise.

That second picture is the real me.

It doesn’t mean life’s always easy, always fun, always flowing along. I have challenges, frustrations, angst and anxiety, just like anyone else. But, because they tend to be in the name of the quest for a more authentic, empowered life, it’s so much easier to reframe them as something positive. To move through the challenges with more grace. To understand that, as Kierkegaard said…

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

I’ve also discovered that part of the process of coming alive involves taking responsibility for your actions and inactions, learning from your outcomes, then closing the book and integrating what you’ve learned to inform and enhance the next leg of your journey. So, now it’s time to look back at 2009, look at what went right and what went wrong, integrate the lessons from these experience…then close the book and move forward.

Closing the book on 2009

For me, 2009 was a year of surprises. Some good, others not so good.

I’d just sold the yoga studio I’d built over the prior 7 years in NYC, left the community behind in the name of clearing my plate to launch a new leg of my journey. On January 13th, my book Career Renegade was released. I’d planned a massive launch campaign, but some things you can’t plan for. January had turned into the darkest hour in this country’s economy since the Great Depression.

At that moment, people were getting laid off at a rate that horrified even the staunchest optimists. People at all levels, eight-figure captains of industry and minimum wage line-workers. The rally cry of those still employed was, “lower your heard, work harder than ever before and hold onto your job for dear life, because you’ll probably never find another if you’re fired.” Into that market, I was launching a book who’s primary message was, “leave your job to do what you love.”

You think THAT was a tough sell?

But, I don’t do the blame thing. Because the moment you start blaming other people or circumstances for your failure is the moment you lose. Rather than executing the campaign I’d whiteboarded for months and pushing the meme’s I thought would drive the book, I began to dance. I reframed what the book was about, positioned it more as a comeback manual, a toolbox to reclaim control for those who’d been laid off.

We sold this message to the media and landed some nice print, a mountain of major market radio and I scored a spot speaking about being a Career Renegade on the Day Stage at SXSW, which was one of my highlights of the year.

The good news was that it worked, at least to a certain extent.

It breathed new life into the book and drove sales. And, my online community of both readers and friends stepped up and supported it in a major way. And, I’m massively thankful to all who rallied to it’s cause. To MY cause.

Still, I can’t deny, I missed my ultimate goal. I was gunning to become a New York Times bestseller. I knew that would be a tipping point for the book that would likely push huge sales numbers and put the knowledge into the hands of vastly more people. That didn’t happen. And, rather than continuing to push hard, get offline and mount a serious ground game, I walked away.

I blamed the market, pulled the majority of my efforts and killed my ground game. And, as I said before, the moment you blame, you lose. I expected the world to step up and embrace my rookie effort as an instant home run. And, for whatever reason, when it said, “we think it’s a triple,” instead of working my ass of to steal home with every pitch, I bailed on the effort.

Big mistake, one I have to own up to. One I’ll learn from for the next book.

And, there WILL be another…and another…and another. That was my plan going in. To sell my seven year business and leverage the publication of Career Renegade to launch a new professional journey as an author, a speaker, a trainer and an entrepeneuer on a much bigger level.

And, it was all based on my assumption that I could hit the New York Times list.

When that didn’t happen, I had to tap dance not only to sell books, but to figure out how to rapidly change my big picture plan. I was having trouble figuring out my message, my value proposition in this new, profoundly changed market. And, along with the economy, the speaking industry had also crashed. At least that’s what I was hearing. Rather than kick the tires of those claims myself, though, I bought into what other top-of-the-market speakers were telling me. So, instead of doubling down on my desire to speak twice a month, I walked away.

Mistake number two. I know better. Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.

I eventually discovered that the higher priced speakers in the $25-$50,000 keynote range (yes, some people ACTUALLY get paid that much money to talk for an hour) were indeed the ones taking the biggest hit. Because conference organizers couldn’t pay their fees and they didn’t want to lower them, knowing that once we came out of the current funk, they’d have to work back up to current price levels over a period of years. That left room for low/mid-priced speakers to swoop in and fill spots in the $5-$15,000 range. Still not bad money for an hour’s time, lol!

It took way longer than it should have for me to circle back to this exploration and understand what was really happening.

Now, part of my quest for 2010 is to take action on this information.

And, toward the last quarter of 2009, I also awakened to the fact that, though I didn’t hit the New York Times list with my rookie effort, I did still sell a lot more books than the average author. And, I’d spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and even money understanding how to market books in fast-changing online/offline wild west that is today’s book world. And, that had value.

So, I created a free 29 page ebook called The Truth About Marketing to share what I’d discovered and released it online.

With minimal effort, that document caught fire in social media and was instantly downloaded thousands of times. The response blew me away. Time to tap dance again.

Within a week, I rebuilt the website that I’d slapped up to host the ebook, turned it into a real blog and announced a 2-day book marketing training in NYC called Tribal Author Camp. That event sold out, again, with minimal marketing, and the feedback was tremendous. Building on this, I’ll likely roll out more live Tribal Author events and trainings in 2010. Also, we recorded the NYC event and over the next month, I’ll be adding additional content, then launching it to the broader market of authors and aspiring authors as a virtual educational product.

And, this all came to be when I opened myself up to the fact that, just because things didn’t unfold exactly the way I planned with Career Renegade, that didn’t mean I had nothing of value to share.

Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also look back and close the book on the experiences and lessons from my physical health.

In the middle of all this professional head-spinning, it’s been a tumultuous year for my health.

Shortly after returning from SXSW in Austin, I began to mount an earnest attempt to reclaim my fitness. I’d been derailed the year before with a broken foot and a shoulder that never healed quite right after it’s second reconstructive surgery. But, again, I was looking to move beyond blame and finally solve my fitness/health problems.

So, I began to try different ways to move my body, work with various healers and see what my body could handle. I was starting to enjoy running again, so I went back to the trail where I’d broken my left foot a year earlier…and promptly broke my right foot. But, this time was a lot worse. It was a clean break, which meant a month on crutches, followed by a month in an aircast, followed by nearly 4 months of pain and myofascial repatterning as I recovered not only from the injury, but from a month on crutches.

Then, about 3 weeks into my stint on crutches, my sister and wife noticed something I’d seen in some recent media footage of me. It seemed the area in my throat around my Adam’s apple had become much bigger. So, I went to a doctor who felt around, went a bit white, then said, you have two large nodules, we have to see if they’re hot or not.


That led to an ultrasound, a lot of confusion and the better part of a week not knowing if I had cancer or not. Thankfully, the test showed that doc had made a fairly major miscall and what I had was benign, but would require surgery. So, a week later, I crutched my way into pre-op and had throat surgery with my foot in an aircast.

Thankfully, everything worked out well, but I was now left even more of a physical wreck as the mass removed from my throat was rather large and left a lot of strain that would take months to finally repattern and release.

As I enter 2010, my foot and neck are now largely healed, though I am left with a certain amount of discomfort that I’m told may be there for life. I don’t accept that. I will keep working with a variety of modalities to not only try to completely resolve the pain, but set my body up to be able to bring the activities I love back into my life.

Thankfully, during this year filled with surprises and challenges, I’ve also been blessed to have been able to spend even more time than usual with my wife and daughter.

That has been nothing short of mindblowing.

I love them both more than words could ever describe and, now that I find myself working full-time from my home office, they’ve been constant sources of inspiration, love and support.

So, now, filled with gratitude, humility and hope, I officially close the book on 2009.

Setting up the year ahead.

I am very much in the planning stages for the year to come. The next two weeks will solidify those plans and lock a number of ventures into my calendar. But, if there’s one thing 2009 taught me, it’s that you’ve got to open to dancing a new dance. Doors close and others you never imagined open. But, you need to be willing to see them.

As my friend Chris Brogan likes to do at the start of every year, I find it very helpful to create a set of core focus words and concepts that drive my efforts. Chris limits it to three, I like to go a bit broader at cap it at 10.

So, here are my 10 driving keywords for 2010:

  • Align – make sure my efforts and actions are aligned with both who I am, what makes me come alive and what I am building
  • Build – Focus in on a smaller number of meaningful projects and build something truly impactful
  • Collaborate – work in a more deliberate way with people who are aligned with my vision, values and purpose
  • Signal – Create and share content and solutions that rise about the noise and genuinely add insane value
  • Impact – create experiences and solutions that impact peoples’ lives in a deeply meaningful way
  • Mindset – Focus on cultivating a more present, mindful, focused state of mind
  • Eliminate – Remove distractions to create more space for focused building
  • Give – Serve others, give more than I take.
  • Teach – Share knowledge through speaking, my own events and educational experiences
  • Gratitude – create a daily gratitude practice.

I’ll fill you in on many of the specifics over the next few weeks. I’ll share exactly how I’m bringing these to life in concrete ways. But, as we move into this next year, I just wanted to share how I’ve looked back and what fundamental principles will be guiding me as I look forward.

And, of course, I offer a huge thank you to you guys, my amazing community of friends, teachers, colleagues and supports.

You rock more than you know.!

As always, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on closing the book on 2009 and what your Driving Keywords are for 2010 in the comments below…

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83 responses

83 responses to “Oh The Places You Will Go”

  1. […] This post was Twitted by jonathanfields […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger. remarkablogger said: RT @jonathanfields: Oh The Places You Will Go… http://is.gd/5IPiv […]

  3. LisaNewton says:

    Wow, what a year, and looking forward to a new decade is amazing. I hope I can do a little of what you’ve accomplished in a short amount of time.

    As I wrote over at Chris’s blog this morning, my three words are:

    Conversation, focus, and help, and each of them have both personal and professional meanings.

    I wish you and your family a wonderful 2010. The best is yet to come!!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your words, Lisa, powerful. And wishes for a wonderful 2010 back at ya!

  4. Wow, man. Helluva ride.

    I actually did quit my job this year. One of the best decisions I ever made.

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with for 2010, dude.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, Michael, you’ve had a pretty friggin change-filled year as well. Love it when it takes you further down the right path.

  5. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  6. Tisha Morris says:

    Great perspective, Jonathan! As an ex-lawyer turn yogi turn author, I can appreciate your journey. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    My word for 2010: Expansion.

  7. Marko Saric says:

    Wow what a journey last year… thanks for being honest about your goals and achievements… looking forward to see what’s next… all the best in 2010!

  8. Rockin’. I also quit my job that wasn’t really a job, but it sort of was. I really enjoyed the honesty and realness of this article. 2010 will rock, you can quote me on that.

  9. malingerer says:

    I just loved this posting, it’s real and heartfelt..

    I did buy your book, never quite finished it though.. I need to.

    Last 24 months or so have been one the sh*ttiest periods of my life (what could go wrong, did.. what could go right, didn’t..), but there’s no blaming the world.. I just put my head down, keep moving ahead and try not to quit the better things.

    New opportunities are scary, you want to make the right decisions, though sometimes that indecision turns into paralysis..

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      New opportunities ARE scary, but sliding sideways, when you track what that looks like 5, 10 or 20 years out, is often far scarier. 😉

  10. My wife/biz partner and I flip-flopped *twice* this year. We started the year, dedicated to building my writing and speaking and coaching. But then her virtual assistant business exploded, and we decided the universe was telling us to focus there.

    Nothing happened but a big fizzle.

    Struggle struggle struggle. Renew commitment to my business. Hard work, baby steps of progress, much happiness.

    Then, her business fires up again, all on its own. So, we follow what we think makes sense, jump on it, and, once again, fizzle. Blah. Silence.

    This time, we did a post-mortem. Result? I love being center stage. I love leading the charge and rousing the troops.

    She, on the other hand, revels in being backstage, making things happen whilst remaining invisible.

    My business, slow as it’s growing, puts us both in the right roles, our natural roles. Hers switches them, and puts us both in a position where we’re uncomfortable and unhappy.

    So it seems our choices are to deny our nature and try to change it, or keep our focus where we can do some good.

    Our commitment for 2010 is not to waffle. This is the year we get out of the Someday Box and see this through to success.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      So glad you spoke about this, Joel. I’m spending a lot of time working on aligning who I am with what I do this year, too. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that’s what you should be doing.

      • Amy Miyamoto says:

        Thanks for making this point. I have been wrestling with this point myself this year. I have a number of strengths that I have had a chorus of people urge me to focus on because they are perceived as “hot” topics. Yet they are not what makes my heart sing…So I’ve been working on formulating a way to leverage them yet not have them “have” to be my main focus.
        Amy (@LotusAmy on Twitter)

  11. Hey Jonathan,

    Wow…it’s amazing what you have accomplished…and triple amazing given what you had to overcome in the process. Best of luck in 2010!

    My words for 2010:

    Vision – Create a compelling vision of the future for myself and my partners.

    Teach – Help others through teaching.

    Inform – Give away as much valuable information that I can.

    Create – Create insane value in my properties, companies, and projects.

    Thanks – Make sure I never forget to give thanks.

    Appreciate – My wife, my daughter, and my life.

    All the best,


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      You know I look at guys like Jon Morrow who writes for Copyblogger and what he’s had to overcome and frankly, my year has been a cakewalk. Stuff comes our way we’d never expect, best thing we can do it learn to dance and create on the fly. Learn to roll with it.

  12. Brett says:

    Mind blowing story, Jonathan. I haven’t read your book, but I’m left wondering if you chased being a lawyer for the prestige and not because you actually liked law and all that it entails?

    You would agree that if one were passionate about law, one should continue down that career, right?

    Regardless, here are my words for 2010:

    Evolution – Keep building myself and evolve toward being the person I’m destined to be

    Integrity – Make everything I do a reflection of who I am

    Love – Because the world needs more of it

    Network – Get social, spread my message, connect with others

    Vision – Create a vision for a future and work to realize it

    Have a fabulous 2010, Jonathan.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Brett, Yeah, I had very little genuine jones for the law, that’s one of the major reasons I walked away. If I’d had a passion for it, I’d very likely be practicing today, albeit in a different setting. Thanks for sharing your words!

  13. Hugh says:

    “The moment you blame, you lose.” What a powerful line! I love it.

    I’m sure it’s not easy to share your regrets with the community, but thanks for doing so. We can all learn from others’ trials and tribulations and improve ourselves as a result. I’m personally grateful for everything you shared in 2009. I am just starting out on my own journey, and I hope I can be as valuable to some people as you have to so many.

    Lastly, I’m getting married in St. John USVI in May, so it’s awesome to hear about your Maho Bay experience. I haven’t been to Maho yet, but I hear many great things.


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, wish I could take credit for that concept, but I can’t. I’ve heard it put in so many different ways, but that language just resonates with me. It pushes me to snap out of any tendency toward self pity, get up off my ass and act to get where I want to go. It also positions you as someone who has the power in nearly any circumstance.

  14. Milo says:

    Interesting to hear that things didn’t go quite as planned Jonathan, but rest assured your book had an incredibly positive effect on my life (and on many other people I’m sure). I spent 2009 diving into the world that you opened up for me and devouring all the information I could. I’m hoping that 2010 will be the year of:


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Milo, thanks for the kind words, so glad Career Renegade resonated with you. Love your 3 words, very powerful

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  16. Lexi Sundell says:

    Not that it makes the rough ride you took through 2009 any easier, but I think many of us had a pretty bumptious time of it. I painted intensely the first half of the year as my health deteriorated, then got too sick to paint. Nearly died twice of a systemic infection August and October. Back on the mend now after making a deliberate choice to stay on the planet. As I regain my physical energy I am beginning several new projects that embody and share the spiritual dimensions of everything that has happened. I think 2010 will bring challenges of its own but will be a lot of fun. Seeing what creative folks like you will be doing will be part of that fun.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Lexi, I didn’t mean for any of what I shared to sound like I was complaining, just want to make sure that came through. I realize how incredibly blessed I am, not matter what comes my way. Glad to hear you’re back on track.

  17. Hi Jonathan,

    Your humility and vulnerability in sharing your “story” with the rest of us is so appreciated. I love how you have chosen to learn from the circumstances around you…which reminds the rest of us to do the same! What really resonated with me is the idea of “real” you. As a Coach, that is my primary focus–helping my clients be more of who they are. There is such a richness of life when you show up as YOU!

    Regarding closing the book on 2009, I’ve been using this quote with my clients to help support that idea: “What do you pack to pursue a dream and what do you leave behind?” (Sandra Sharpe). What a perfect time to reflect on what we’re taking with us into 2010…and what we’re choosing to leave in the dust.

    Love the idea, too, of driving keywords. My “Following Your Joy” blog is based on the idea that the more you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy…the more the magic unfolds. So one of my driving keywords for 2010 is definitely JOY. It seems as though living in joy–and helping my clients do the same–is why I’m here on earth. So for now, I’m choosing just one keyword to focus on. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights as you keep learning and growing. I like your style!

    Blessings to you for GREAT health this year, and I look forward to witnessing your journey continue to unfold!


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Good questions. Howard Behar, the former President of Starbucks International shared another one with me that I’ll be thinking about a lot…”If there was no criticism or praise, who would you be?”

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  19. Traci says:

    Found this great post through Barbara Winter (I love her!). I love people that look for the lessons to be learned instead of lamenting their situation. Everything that happens is an opportunity to learn and grow. Way to go!

    My keywords and focus for 2010 are: Creative Journeys, Everyday Appreciation and Share & Receive (ideas, inspiration, lessons)

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I’ve discovered that it’s better to set aside a short discrete amount of time to digest your experiences, integrate any knowledge, then move on. If you don’t you just end up never letting go or worse, wallowing and never moving forward. We all screw up, that’s not a bad thing unless you don’t learn from it.

  20. Bianca says:

    Thanks for such an inspiring post! I particularly liked how you used those two pictures at the beginning and how you told a story about them. It’s starting to make me look at my own photos to see if the person I see is “the real me” 😛

    As for my thoughts on 2009: I think it was a big year for “fear”. Everyone felt it the entire year – while some continued to keep at it despite the fear taking over them, some let the fear take hold of them. I’ve learned a lot in 2009 and it was a year of self-discovery for me (discovered the good and bad). What I’m taking from this is that we should all try to be courageous (Courage is one of my Driving Keywords for 2010). I know that’s simple to say and extremely hard to do. But isn’t there a saying where the scariest things to do are often the most rewarding?

    As for my other Driving Keywords for 2010: Create and Play. I really want to start working on projects I’ve had in my notebook for quite some time now (but haven’t because fear has held me back from taking them to the next level). I also want to enjoy life more by doing the things I’ve wanted to do and are passionate about (yoga, travel, photography, just to name a few)

    Best wishes to you for the upcoming year, Jonathan!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Glad you enjoyed the pics and the stories. And, thanks for sharing “Create and Play,” two awesome words to lead with.

  21. I had noticed that you’d lost momentum on your book but I figured that it was because you were doing some massive behind the scenes stuff.

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you hoped. (HUG)

    The truth is, however, that you’ve been pretty successful at everything you’ve tried your hand at. Law school, lawyering, yoga, and entrepreneurship. It may feel like you lost something but I think it will make you better, and help you work smarter, in the long run.

    Happy New Year, my friend. 🙂

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, I knew those who’ve known me for a while probably sensed that I pulled back. And, interesting enough, having been pretty successful at a bunch of other things made not hitting a massive homerun on the first book even more frustrating for me. I don’t like not getting what I want, lol! Not worry, though, I’ve learned sooo much about the process and about myself, second time out is gonna be fun. 😉

  22. Tamara says:

    Happy New Year! My word for 2010 is “Explore”.
    I’d like to thank you for the motivation and inspiration you provide in your book. I bought it a few months back and had such amazing free-flowing ideas and brainstorming sessions come out of reading it. As of today, I have begun a blogas a photo journal of the coming year. Although, it’s just for fun right now, it is all tied in with the intention and hope of making some life changes in the near future. I’m babbling now…sorry!
    Good Luck to you in the coming year!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Glad you enjoyed the book, Tamara! And, it’s even cooler to see you’re taking action on the ideas, keep us all in the loop/ 🙂

  23. […] Fields from Awake At The Wheel talks about his 10 Driving Keywords for 2010. That let me to Chris Brogan’s post on his 3 words for 2010, which is by now an ongoing […]

  24. Karilee says:

    Jonathan, thanks for sharing the story of your year, inspiring a post on my site, as well as for the idea of choosing words for the new year. Mine are:


    I know they’re not intuitively obvious, but there’s a bit more on my site about what they mean to me.

    Closing the book on 2009, it felt like it took a long time to get past “stuck” and start actually taking action in the directions I want to go. I think the fledgling momentum that developed, particularly in the last quarter of the year, will keep me going now. This type of discussion helps.

  25. Ed Gandia says:

    Jonathan – You’ve reminded me of a concept I like to call “Forrest Gump” living. The reason I loved that movie is that Forrest didn’t know any better…so he succeeded (wildly!) at everything he did. Sure, it was funny and heart-warming. But to me, it was a powerful reminder that sometimes it’s best not to listen to what the “experts” tell me can or can’t be done.

    I’ll be gunning for the NYT list when my book comes out this spring. But I’m going to take your advice and decide for myself what’s truly possible. After all, I have big plans for Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co.

    Thanks for sharing this very personal account of 2009. Look forward to hearing more about what you have planned for 2010!

  26. Tim Brownson says:

    Good stuff man and if anybody deserves huge success you do.

    I hardly know anybody that hasn’t read CR, so it kinda leaves me shaking my head as to what you have to do these days to hit the best seller lists, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Let me know when you do, wontchya? 😉

    • Rob says:

      Tim, thanks for your top 5 book recommendations.

      “Career Renegade” arrived on my doormat this week – can’t wait to get stuck in.

  27. This is a fantastic post and everyone reading it can relate, I’ll bet! I like the way you need 10 words. It’s been fun watching you grow. Let me know if I can help in any way. Rock 2010!

  28. Joe Jacobi says:

    Excited about your journey my friend and thanks for all you do to make mine better. I went with 3 Words this year – Brogan style – but a throwback to something I used to do from my Olympic Canoeing days. 3 Words are Edges, Energy, Elite (more at http://bit.ly/6HTtGh)

    I hope some of your alignment reaches the Olympic movement – everyone, including Team USA, could use a little more Renegade in their lives!

  29. Julie says:

    Your posts and book is an inspiration! I quit my corporate job this year and am ready for a new adventure. Your posts and book have been tremendously helpful. I like your honest approach and how you share your successes and your challenges on your journey. The real, honest truth of who you are and the challenges you are facing is much more inspirational than a lot of ‘positive – hype and mumbo jumbo’ – so keep it up!! And best of luck to you in your 2010 goals and ahead – I’m sure you’ll acheive them! Looking forward to following you on your journey this year. Thanks for the inspiration.


    • Jonathan Fields says:


      I like your line – “real, honest truth of who you are and the challenges you are facing is much more inspirational than a lot of ‘positive – hype and mumbo jumbo’.” I’m actually about to write a lot more about that very phenomenon

  30. Rob says:

    Bang! This is the quote that hit me:

    “Doors close and others you never imagined open. But, you need to be willing to see them.”

    Having done a review for the past two years, at the end of each year, I have learned that the most (supportive) unexpected circumstances and people can appear in your life if you’re open to them. 90% of my life is different to where I was a year ago, and the same for the year before that. That’s proper change in action! Sometimes it can feel like life isn’t moving forward when it truly is.

    I like the A.B.C of Align, Build and Collaborate – that really fits for 2010.

    My personal additional ‘C’ is ‘Commitment’ which for me means acting only with integrity and fully following-through on actions and projects.

    Jonathan – thanks for a most inspiring post to start the year and new decade. It feels good.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      That’s been a huge lesson for me this year. I’ve always known it as an entrepreneur, but it really came through the publishing process. And, I like the shorthand “ABC,” that’s cool.

  31. Haider says:

    Happy new year, Jonathan!

    I haven’t finished reading your book, but from what I’ve read, I’m sure it’ll make it to the NYT list pretty soon.

    I usually get annoyed by books that are poorly structured or where I feel the author could’ve done a better job. I didn’t feel that about your book in the least. I admired your ability to simplify such a broad topic and to offer the information in a practical way.

    I had to part with your book prematurely because I was getting too excited about all the opportunities I had. I followed the advice you shared in the chapters that I’ve read, and I look forward to continuing my journey with you as I go through the rest of your book in 2010.

    My words for the new year are:

    Streamline: Have different activities and projects support one another.

    Create: Instead of read more, I want to write more. To create more than I consume.

    Persist: To follow my projects through, no matter how challenging they become.

    Wishing you and your readers a great year ahead!


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey, if you’re going to bail halfway through the book, at least it should because it’s inspired so much action, you just have to stop and DO something!

  32. Jonathan, I’m so glad we became friends this year. I feel you’ve lived a great story this year. I’m ready for your next chapter.

  33. One of my favorite of your posts (and I have many favorite Jonathan posts). Your honesty is, of course, very touching and engaging. But the way you weave all of these threads together to produce a rich and varied fabric that is also its own thing is what really bowls me over (and why I am a diehard essay apologist).

    I’m also thrilled that you replaced the catchy graphic, cute as it was, with this amazing picture of yourself. Brilliant and, ironically, perhaps, far less self-promote-y.

    Here’s to a brilliant 2010 full of weaving, sans bobbing. As others have mentioned already, can’t wait to see where the year takes you!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey C,

      So glad this resonated my Austin powerwalking buddy, lol! And, yeah, it was time to come out from the behind the curtain a bit with my header image, feels good.

  34. Sean Aiken says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Jonathan! I’m looking forward to your Tribal Author Event/Training launch.

    Alignment is a huge one for me too. I always demand authenticity from myself, constantly question my intentions, and try my best to just “keep it real”. My intentions are always genuine, yet sometimes I still halt my efforts because of the knowledge that there is an inherent benefit to me – I don’t want to be perceived that I’m merely trying to better my own position. I’ve realized that it’s all about alignment. If my beliefs/values are in line with my actions, then I can be confident that my actions are true and continue to create win-win situations, regardless of potential criticism from others.

    Gratitude – In the past week I’ve been very anxious about 2010, and have placed a lot of pressure on myself. For me, 2010 presents some amazing opportunity, but at the same I’ve been overwhelmed at the thought of the attached responsibility. I must continue to put it in perspective; recognizing how lucky I am to be in this situation allows me to accept the role graciously.

    All the best for 2010!

  35. Sami Paju says:

    Great post Jonathan! I really enjoyed reading it.

    2009 has been a year of huge personal growth for me. I regained my health and fitness, learned a lot about psychology, neuroscience, relationships and a great deal of other things, and I believe I have finally discovered where I want to take my life.

    I don’t want to name keywords for 2010, but there are some topics worth mentioning:
    – I will go deeper into figuring out what ‘being a man’ means in the modern times, and what can be characterized as mature masculinity
    – I will try to grow my blog, and post steadily every week as I have done for the past months
    – I will go deeper into the fields of psychology and neuroscience
    – I will change my major in the university to something that is more aligned with my beliefs and values
    – I will do a 6-month student exchange and learn a new language
    – I will continue to increase my understanding of how the human body and mind works, and how to make them work better for myself and others

    Have a great 2010!


  36. […] This post was Twitted by LotusAmy […]

  37. Andy Hayes says:

    Jonathan –

    I have this problem a lot: that I bust my ass and work hard and I expect just because I worked hard that people will stop and take notice. It doesn’t work like that; you just have to keep working hard to be more remarkable and do something that forces them to take note. 🙂

    I can’t help but laugh at your “NYT Best Seller” goal – and how ridiculous it all sounds. It hit close to home too as I’ve made similar mistakes. There are so much more satisfying, attainable, and even more lucrative goals than these silly lists.

    We ‘met’ in 2009, and I hope to maybe meet you in person in 2010 (will be at SXSW as well as in NYC in June). Until then, best wishes my friend for another rockin’ and wild year.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Andy, interesting points. I actually don’t expect people to stop and take notice just because I worked hard, that’s why I put a ton of effort into pushing solutions to the level of remarkability and then building the most powerful possible evangelism and marketing engines around them. Sometimes that effort works, other times, I make mistakes that help do things better next time around.

      Also, on gunning for the NY Times list…that was definitely NOT a mistake. The goal had some ego value in it for me, no doubt, but that’s not what it’s really about. As an author, when you hit the list, your brick and mortar distribution explodes, every thousands more retail points not only buy your book, but place it on the front tables and turn it out on the shelves and media and speaking opportunities come swooping in that are exponentially more difficult to land without it. This creates a cascade effect that fuels a radically different level of sales and opps going forward. That’s why it was so important to me from a pure business model standpoint. And, that’s why I will continue to aspire to hit that list with future books, and bring everything I’ve learned and more to the effort.

      Definitely look forward to continuing the convo at SXSW. 🙂

  38. […] is someone I have only learned about recently and have not had the chance to read his book, but he has a great post about what caused him to make a leap most would describe as “freakin’ insane” as […]

  39. Angela says:

    So much of what you have written has resonated with me. As someone who struggles with the question “what do you do?” it is validating to listen to someone else’s success in doing the many things that you are interested in and passionate about.

    I also started a business this year and it was undoubtedly the right decision for me. But doing it in the current economic climate certainly has provided lessons that might otherwise not have presented themselves. I am now beginning your book and look forward to it!

    Separately I want to acknowledge your post about your cousin in Afghanistan. My family lost someone a year ago fighting there and I just want to say thank you for recognizing our soldier’s sacrifices ~ both those who come home and those that don’t.

    Finally, my keyword for 2010 is rather simple: Create

  40. Wow… you had an interesting year with major ups and downs, but don’t worry about it… you have shown that even when the cards are down, your spirit to succeed will allow you to follow-though with what you have planned in your mind. A great trait!

    2009 was a crazy year for me to, wrote 4 books, 3 of which are published, traveling the world and being published in a few major mags regarding another business I run. Things were not all roses but nothing near the level of headaches you had! Best of luck Jonathan on your journey towards success… and never give-up on your dreams!


  41. Debbie Ferm says:

    Hello, I’m quite new to your website, and recently bought your book. There are so many good resources in it that will be useful to me long after I finish reading it. Thank you!

    About your year, those physical challenges sure can take the wind out of your sales, can’t they? And the mind/body connection is so powerful that it can truly affect your outlook. (I know you know that:) I had a year similar to that in 2008, and understand.

    I, too, am grateful that the things that I struggled with will heal. Too many people are not so fortunate and I am always aware of that. Also, obviously, as long as my kids are healthy, I can get through anything.

    Wishing you good luck in the New Year.

    Debbie Ferm

  42. Christine says:

    Hey, Jonathan

    I much prefer 2006 you!

    Seriously, I had no idea you’d been dealing with these health issues last year. I know you only through your book and your blog, but my imagination tells me that you’ll have dealt with them holistically and understood their meaning for you. I think it’s lovely that your experience has given you more time with you family. For me, love and relationship are vital and sustain everything else we are and do.

    Among my words for the year are focus, experiment and believe.

    I wish you the best for 2010 and look forward to watching you continue to unfold.

  43. Patty says:

    Aloha Jonathan-
    You are an inspiration! I am so grateful there are people like you who are willing to open up as you do. Good luck with your goals for renewed fitness and health. Wow-what a year! Will you be working at your treadmill desk this year? Does it figure into your exercise plans? Wishing you all the best in 2010!

  44. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for an honest and incredibly sincere (not to suggest you aren’t usually!) recap of your year. Your “NY Times Bestseller” quest really resonates with me as I have found myself not doing things because they won’t be good enough – they won’t be successful enough, or received well, or gain enough acclaim. So what’s better? To never try or try and maybe not reach your initial goal? We know the answer to that. Thanks for the reminder.

    I choose one word every year and this year’s word is “enough.” Enough stuff, enough non-value added crap in my life, enough procrastinating, enough thinking and more doing, etc.

    Happy 2010!

  45. Suzi Craig says:

    Jonathan – thank you for this incredibly insightful piece that is both passionate and put-into-play pragmatic all at once. Speaking of p’s . . . I typically scoff at choosing focus words (the cynic in me) or setting resolutions (blech), but 2010 is different. I’m different. I believe we are in the midst of a cultural, sociological and economical Renaissance (ala Patricia Martin’s RenGen) and I am knee deep in finding this for 2010 and beyond:


    Thanks for finding yours Jonathan. And, if there’s a mailing list for your Tribal Author hodown, put me on it.

  46. Jonathan
    Collaboration is the center of those other key words perhaps because doing it successfully it either reflects one has done the others well and/or enables you to do them. In the roiling economy of 2010 those non-blaming opportunity-makers who keep an eye out for opportunity to serve the greater good, grow an organization or solve a problems – then recruit the right mix of players to address what they see are more likely to live a meaningful life… with others

  47. Desirea says:

    Well all right, I can relate to this story.

    It’s been a heck of a decade and a year. In 2006, I lost my 16 year old niece to a genetic disorder. 2007 saw me laid up from surgery, have my job outsourced to a new company thereby starting from scratch at the new company. 2008 saw me getting a concussion that put me in the hospital for a while. 2009 I broke my left arm in half. The crowning glory is here today Jan 4, 2010.. my job has been eliminated.

    Right now the thing that is holding me together are my family, friends and the last final thought.

    “When one door closes, another one opens.”

    I’m turning away from the closed door and looking for that open door.

  48. luke scott says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    While i am probably not an “active” person on your blog i do read the newsletters when the title interests me or I find myself with spare time (lol whats that!!) . But I have to say i found this letter fantastic, seeing not 15min b4 reading this i just sent the below email to one of my friends.

    “that must have been fun. so have you started planning for the year? organising holidays etc . i have a plan- 1st one i have made in a couple of years for myself.

    i decided to work from home today. woke up and didnt feel like an 50min drive in for no reason. so emailed them, i have bowel movement issues today, apparently 🙂 . but am working . yay. todays setiment sealed the plan below i think.

    am starting to put together the plan of attack for the year. i have decided to farm and do homeloans from around march onwards. that way i can refi the house, get the cash to set up the farm properly, which will produce an income within 3 months. and i will have cash to live. have a few loans on the go so that will also fund me ($10k in the next 12 weeks). will take part of july and august off (slow farming months) and do the trip OS. then come back and farm some more- do more loans and get this lifestyle/work balance about right. but most importantly on my terms.

    and if i feel like staying os (or in another city) then dad can manage the farm, pay some staff when required so he isnt hurting himself. and i will still make a small income , enough to cover the farm costs. that way i am just paying for me to travel/ live.

    thats the plan- i have done the numbers and its quite achievable as the farm will make $35 -50k pa (low estimate) homeloans will be $25k + (i expect $30k -$50k pa) . plus if i set up a shipping container for guests/backpackers i can rent out a room or 2 and make get another $5-10k pa.

    what do you think? i think its the only way for me to get the life i want. well, without doing 2-3 years of full on work and then kicking back. i dont think i want to do 2 or 3 years of big hours , stress etc . or working for other people. ” end email.

    Even stranger is that I have been doing physio for the last 6 weeks on a severely strained ankle, which is by far the worst injury i have ever had- rebuilding muscle and re tensioning ligaments is like getting growth pains again. I am only just back on my beloved mountain bike and have 3-4 more weeks of taking it easy before i can ride hard and play soccer & tennis. but just being on the bike is great motivation to work hard in the pool and doing physio stretches.

    I am Australian, have been involved in lots of marketing and business transactions, yet dislike parts of my life even though i shouldn’t. A few years ago i bought a small farm for my dad to live on. I have since enjoyed alot of time there and have physically built a small house with my hands. i now have ambitions of designing and building a house from used shipping containers in a eco friendly concept. starting with a simple project mentioned below for additional accommodation for friends and travellers ( new friends I havent met ). But to fund all this i still need an income- so its time to start farming and continue my mortgage broking business on a smaller scale. I have realised I cant give up a “mental job” for a purely “physical” one. so am thinking i will naturally find a balance between the 2. both allow great time and travel freedoms if managed correctly.

    Above all it is great to read of people changing there lives successfully to more rewarding and probably sustainable conditions.

    I know this is a strange email but thought i would share in the hope it may benefit others as some of your articles have benefited me.

    Cheers to future successes

    Luke Scott

    ps. oh the places you will go was the book given to me when i graduated my Business Degree!! i have used that book so many times with staff, and i think it might be time for me to read it again. thanks

  49. Jim Vickers says:


    Thanks for the revealing peak into your past year. It’s encouraging to know that people I admire also have a lot of the same difficulties that I do. Life is not perfect. I like the idea of a list of key words for the new year. I will develop a list of my own words for 2010.
    Thanks again for all you give, Jonathan! Here’s to a rewarding 2010!

  50. Personally, I would not label your decision to walk away from the book a mistake.

    It was the worst possible time to launch. Successful bookstores were closing all over the country. Publishers were laying off in droves and especially in PR which authors need.

    There is wisdom in not trying to race a three legged horse.

    I think this is an amazing statement –

    “I also awakened to the fact that, though I didn’t hit the New York Times list with my rookie effort, I did still sell a lot more books than the average author.”

    Lucky. I bought a couple of copies myself. One for one of my kids. Good book.

    The rest of the traumatic year you did not share. Maybe you should have. You have friends out here who would have held your hand. Including me.

    By the way, you look better in the later picture!

  51. Jeffrey Luke says:

    Jonathan – you inspire me to be the man I’ve always wanted to be. It’s a journey I am now finally ready to take. Looking forward to more inspiration from you!

  52. […] after reading these inspiring posts from Jonathan Fields and Chris Brogan, I’ve decided to list my own 3 Words for […]

  53. Seeing your year laid out like that was very wild. I have never done that experience, but I imagine it’s pretty eye-opening. Thank you for sharing it, and the very best to you in 2010, sir. Keep doing it right.

    Chris Brogan, Career Dropout

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Chris,

      No doubt. First time I’ve ever done something like this. It’s an eye opening experience, really lets you step back, frame what you’ve experienced and ask the “what’d I learn from this?” question

  54. […] been a dizzying, exhilarating, fun ride. I’ve talked about what unfolded, how it sold, what my expectations were and what I’ve learned. And, I’ve also discovered that birthday’s are best celebrated by giving instead of […]

  55. Though you probably didn’t intend for people to get out their tissues after reading this, I did. Your thoughts are boosting my confidence as I embrace some risky changes of my own.
    Words for 2010 (applied to both work and running for me)
    Dig deeper: know why you are doing something; bring your best game
    Small bites: you can’t do it all at once; little bit at a time is better than nothing at all.

  56. So I’m a little late to the party…

    Re: “part of the process of coming alive involves taking responsibility for your actions and inactions, learning from your outcomes, then closing the book and integrating what you’ve learned to inform and enhance the next leg of your journey.”

    I feel like I’m here right now (at this very moment). At a point where I’m thinking about each of these things, processing it all, and planning the next step (nay, the next leap).

    Jonathan, you’ve had an amazing year (challenging in all areas). Nevertheless, your enthusiasm and passion shines through every morning (I see it on Twitter). Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished and here’s to a great 2010 ahead!

  57. […] are many fashionable approaches to this process, many of them with valuable insights. Jonathan Fields chose 10 words to focus his energy. His approach is an expanded derivation from a three-word approach used by Chris Brogan, who, like […]

  58. […] read Jonathan Fields’ latest blog post this morning, and it REALLY spoke to me.  I was still in bed, grabbed my phone to see what was […]