2016 Awesome Bucket Results

I shot four for nine and missed my one thing, but it’s OK because I learned something.

To improve we must watch ourselves fail and learn from our mistakes.

“One has to hurt, to go through a period of stress, a period of self-doubt, a period of confusion. And then out of that mess can flow the richest tapestries.” — Ed Cooke, Grand Master of Memory, in the book Moonwalking with Einstein

I loaded my plate with a healthy serving of goals for the second half of 2016, when I had some free time after graduating from business school.

After tallying up the results, it appears my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I accomplished only four of the nine goals (44%, the worst success rate in my four-year Awesome Bucket history) and backed out of my top goal, a 50-mile ultramarathon, due to potential injury.

Laziness, poor planning and boredom caused some of my failures in 2016. I think I was exhausted and still catching my breath after going full throttle through grad school.

However, despite the low success rate, I learned and grew from 2016, which makes the failures worthwhile.

Here are the results of my nine goals from 2016.

My one thing: Go Ultra – complete a 50-miler

Result: Failed

I read the book Unbreakable Runner and trained hard, six-days a week, for three months, using a methodology similar to the Crossfit Endurance plan I used to dominate Ironman Arizona in 2013. I felt great, laid out my ultimate ultra plan, and registered for the McDowell Mountain Frenzy.

But a few weeks before the race, I felt my PTT acting up (again) after a great 20-mile trail run through South Mountain. My left foot was telling me it wasn’t ready for that distance.

I considered ignoring my bruises and going for the 50 miles anyway.

Then I pictured myself after the race, in a walking boot, and back in physical therapy. I decided that would suck way worse than failing this goal, so I listened to my body and backed out of the race.

I’ll give this one another shot in 2017.


  1. Create a functional binder of MBA work.
    Result: Accomplished
    Great to revisit and refresh the concepts from business school. I went through my notes and papers from each class and trimmed them down into binders that can be easily referenced.
  2. Learn how to speak Mandarin.
    Result: Failed
    Despite the inspiration from my recent trip to China, I simply didn’t prioritize this goal. I’ll be pushing this one back to 2017.
  3. Practice lucid dreaming.
    Result: Accomplished
    I wrote down 85 dreams over the course of the year, with a peak of 20 dreams recorded in January, and low of zero dreams in September. I haven’t experienced lucid dreaming – a state where you are aware you’re dreaming, while you’re dreaming – but I’m on my way, and I’ll continue to use these tips from Tim Ferriss.


  1. Publish two stories a month
    Result: Failed
    I published seven stories over the six-month span of this abridged list. I attribute this failure to exhaustion from grad school. I couldn’t find much motivation for deadlines, essays and writing so soon after graduation, but I’m pleased with the seven stories I was able to produce:


  1. Explore three cities in China:
    Result: Accomplished
    Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai (done and done) as part of an international elective MBA course.


  1. Guide an Achilles International runner in a race.
    Result: Failed
    I haven’t been able to overcome the scheduling conflicts between my training plan and that of the Achilles runners. This may not be a realistic goal while I’m so focused on hitting the marks of my own triathlon and ultra programming.
  2. Land a standing back flip.
    Result: Failed
    The back flip is now my white whale. Despite parkour and tumbling practice, it’s proving more difficult than expected. Pushing back to 2017 and hoping the third time is a charm.
  3. Take one month of parkour training classes.
    Result: Accomplished
    I attended classes about once a week at a parkour gym and felt myself getting better balance and flexibility, learning how to run up walls and safely jump out of buildings. I stopped after about a month due to injury (foot) and to focus on ultramarathon training, but I’ll get back into it for the first few months of 2017 to improve mobility and tackle that back flip.

See previous Awesome Buckets from 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Photo: Rob Franksdad