My Annual Retrospective (2020): 30-Year Thinking

Every year for the past few years I’ve started to do my annual retrospective. It’s a simple process that involves three questions.

  • What’s working
  • What’s not working
  • How can I fix what’s not working for better results?

This year I’ve decided to add a wrinkle to it. A fourth question.

  • What do I want to be doing in 30 years?

We’re often told to take things day by day. I see the value in that. But I’ve always enjoyed 30,000-foot views. I want to understand the big picture, where I want to be, and reverse engineer how to get there.

Annual retrospective: 30-year thinking? What do you want to be doing in 30-years?

justin thomas miller

To help with this take a few minutes and ask yourself what certain work or tasks energizes and drain you?

Off the bat, I can tell you that writing energizes me. Movement energizes me. Travel energizes me. Photography energizes me. And deep one to one conversation energizes me.

Programming workouts drain me. At least in the capacity, I do them. Coaching 80 people can be a challenge sometimes. Emotional vampires also drain me. These are people that always seem to suck the life from you. Stress drains me. I don’t do a great job managing it. I tend to put too much on my plate.

Using that, the fun part begins. What do you want to be doing in 30-years?

Writing (editing).

This couldn’t be more clear to me. Not only fitness and nutrition writing. All kinds of writing. It’s become a beautiful outlet for me. A way to de-stress, express thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

I tend to overthink a lot of things. Writing has helped me clear the cluster fuck of thought going on in my noodle. It helps me gain clarity and focus.

In 30-years I’d like to continue writing about fitness and nutrition but much more. Not everything needs to be published. It could simply be journaling on my own in a notebook.

I added editing to this because it’s something I do not do a great job with. It drains me, but it is an extremely important part of the writing process. 

Coaching nutrition

Is something I want to be doing in 30 years. Most of my clients want the same exact thing. To build a little muscle, lose a little fat, and feel stronger.

But most of them come to me putting too much emphasis on their training and not enough on their diet. I’m not sure if this is the fitness industry’s fault or our own.

My philosophies have evolved over the years. But I’ve always emphasized meaningful movement. Moving your body in ways you enjoy.

  • If you like yoga, do yoga
  • Enjoy riding your Peloton, ride it.
  • Like Orange theory, cool – do that.

Whatever keeps you moving consistently is a win. However, if you want to get stronger, eventually some sort of strength training program will be needed. Random workouts of the day, cardio, and HIIIT won’t.

And if you want to lose fat you have to understand what, and most importantly, how much you’re eating matters. Most clients already come to be with the exercise piece down. It’s the nutrition they struggle with.

Years of strict yo-yo dieting. Eliminating entire food groups. Following plans designed for those whose life revolves around nutrition and fitness.

I want to change the way people eat. To help them build a body and life they’re proud of. To have a better relationship with their body, food, and to remove all the confusion that is holding them back.

Learning new skills

Seeing how writing is something I want to be doing in 30 years, building skills around improving that makes sense. There are also other things like learning a language. I’m simply a lover of learning and want to continue this over the next 30-years. Master Class seems like a good place to start. 

Moving, eating well, meditating more

Fitness and nutrition have been a big part of my life for the past 25 years. I’m 40 now and I’ve built strong habits and routines around exercise and nutrition that I don’t need to work on them much. I only want to keep them up.

But I do want to spend more time meditating. Or at least slowing down and doing nothing. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t doing something, or had a project I was working on. I guess that’s the burden of ambition. Always chasing the horizon, but it never gets any closer.

Traveling and seeing family more

As you get older the reality of how short life can become evident. You start losing friends, it’s tough to see your parents age, and you think about your own mortality.

Traveling brings me so much joy. So does spending time with my family. Even when we’re just sitting there watching episodes of Cobra Kai.

cobra kai gif

2020 has only highlighted how important those things are to me. To quote Joni Mitchell – or Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton, depending on how old you are.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Annual retrospective: What’s working

My job. I love working from home and the flexibility I have in my career. The team we have at Nerd Fitness is an amazing and supportive group. Plus, we’re improving people’s lives. It doesn’t get much better than that. My personal coaching practice through this website is also going well. However, I would like to grow it over the next year.

I wrote more this year. Last year I published one freaking article and hardly did any journaling or free-writing. This year I published 30 new articles on the blog. Plus, I went back and edited a ton of old ones. A few of the most popular ones below.

Old but edited to be better and more awesome:

New and popular articles:

Finally got back into strength training. I consider myself a recovering fitness junkie. I got so deep into fitness and nutrition that I completely burned myself out. For the past few years, my workouts have been at 50% effort. I’m proud that I stayed consistent. But the last few months of 2020 I started training with heavy weights again and I’ve got to tell you – it feels good.

Still single but dating. Being 40 and single is actually awesome. You’d think it would be a disaster and uber difficult. But I find it exhilarating and beneficial. You meet cool people, you have great sex, and everyone has their shit together. I like the idea of getting married and starting a family but I’m happy with where I am at in my relationships.

Annual retrospective: What’s not working

My job can be draining at times. I consider myself hyper-empathetic. I’m like a mirror and a sponge. Not only do I feel what other people feel but I’ll suffer from it too.

No traveling for obvious reasons. This is fairly out of my control right now and I am ok with that. However, I see opportunities for me to do more local travel in the state of California. Treat your town like a tourist.

Not writing about things I want to. My entire life revolves around fitness, nutrition, and coaching. Thus, about 98% of my writing revolves around that. I have a lot of interests and thoughts. I’d like to do more free writing for myself this year.

Reading. This was virtually nonexistent for me this year and I am sad about that. It has always added tremendous value to my life and work. I blame Netflix. Stop releasing entertaining shit.

How can I fix what’s not working for better results?

Scheduling downtime for me is going to be key. Meditating, doing nothing, but also creating more time for reading, photography, and being outdoors. This may involve letting go of some distractions from my life.

Remove distractions from your life and watch your motivation skyrrocket.

Start a blog or journal simply for me. A place to write what I want to write about. Thoughts, feelings, emotions – whatever is going on for me at that moment. I think I have the name of my blog – see below.

Grab a freaking book. This is very important for me. I used to read 52 books a year. To do this I am going to start my day with a single page. I know this seems ridiculous, how is 1 page going to do anything? It gets me started and that is the most important step. I’m currently looking at “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey and “How To Change Your Mind” by Michale Pollan. I can start there.

Slow down. Do less. Be simple. Huh, it feels like this is what it always comes back to for me. Maybe this year I can make it happen. I know this is super broad, and I hate being broad like this. It gives no clear direction. This could involve getting rid of some possessions, doing work that only benefits Nerd Fitness and my own business. I need to sit with it a little more. 

Happy New Year,



Gratitude to Nat Eliason for inspiring 30-year thinking

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash