As the year draws to a close, Dylan looks back at 2022 — his year of growth — and shares some of the lessons he learned in his self-development journey, how he has run his life for the last eight years, and his hopes for the new year — his year of emancipation.
- [02:52] Why Dylan joined men’s groups
- [04:02] On breaking the year into four sections
- [07:29] Dylan’s theme for 2023
- [09:22] Why the US educational system and industrial food system are anti-human
- [16:09] How humans’ attitudes towards exercise changed over time
[00:00:00] Intro: Forget the civilized path. It’s time to break the chains of debt and dependency, take control of our financial lives, and live free. This is the Fiscally Savage Podcast.
[00:00:15] Dylan Bain: Hello and welcome to Fiscally Savage. I’m your host, Dylan Bain. And today, as always, on these Friday episodes, we typically take something in the news and go one step deeper. But today, this being the 30th of December, will be our last episode of this year. We have a ton more content that’s coming at you next year in addition to workshops and classes and gatherings and one-on-one coaching and all the things that you’re going to need to take control of your financial life and live free. So, if you’re not signed up for my email list, I highly recommend you get there because man, I am so excited about 2023.
[00:00:55] And speaking of 2023 and considering that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and that’s the one day of the year where we drink with reckless abandon and then pretend somehow when we wake up hungover the next day life is going to get better because we said some words to ourselves. New Year’s resolutions don’t work. And I was advocating in the last episode that you give your year a theme, like the year of health or the year of wealth or the year of joy or of reading or discovery or of learning — something that is broad and directional and resonant because at the end of the day, everything comes back to emotions.
[00:01:33] And I figured today, on this episode, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna talk to you about how I have run my life, more or less for the last eight years — everything from where I crawled myself out of poverty to present. And what I do is I create a yearly battle plan. So, I have my theme, the new year’s after my principal asked me to commit fraud, what I had named that year was the year of escape. And part of that story was the superintendent couldn’t find a replacement for me, so he actually gave me another contract and I had an extra year of runway, which was good for me. And that principal made my life a living hell, but it was the year of escape. And so, in the year of escape, I took extra classes and I took that time to go down to Phoenix, which was the major city by where I lived in Flagstaff, meet with people and really solidify the plan. And then the next year after that, that was the year I make it happen. And that was when I went through and quit my job and became the best student in my program and really stood out such that I was able to garner scholarships so that when I did my MBA, the school paid me, not me paying the school.
[00:02:52] And as I’ve matured in my self-development journey, I have discovered several things along the way. One of them being that at some point, you can’t do it by yourself. And I did incredible things for about three years and I realized one day that a lone wolf is a dead wolf that doesn’t know it yet. And I joined a men’s group. I actually ended the episode last Tuesday talking about joining a men’s gathering that was with a different men’s group than the one that I actually joined. For those of you who actually want to know, I joined a group called the Iron Council, which is part of the Order of Man podcast that’s run by Ryan Michler. And that gathering that I went to was called the Initiation with Man UNcivilized and Traver Boehm’s group. And I am still a part of both of those groups, mostly because nobody can do it by themselves. And the people that are in those groups are all heading in the same direction. So, when you want to change your life, that culture that’s around you, the culture that you choose in a modern society is critically important.
[00:04:02] And so, I wanna point out that while my years have a theme, I do break the year into four quarters. There’s a book called The 12 Week Year, and you can go to fiscallysavage.com/books and get a copy, or you can pick up a book called Sovereignty: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Men by Ryan Michler. Both of these books outline this idea that you break the year up into four quarters. You break your self-development journey into four different sections — in the case of Sovereignty and Ryan Michler’s book, it’s calibration, condition, connection, and contribution. And you create objectives and tactics on that 12 weeks, one quarter, and then execute on those. And so, when I am writing my battle plans — and as of this recording, we’re getting ready to go into Q1. And in my men’s group, I do lead a small group called a battle team. And my battle team has all posted their battle plans. All 15 of us have our battle plans up. We’ve commented on it. We’re gonna hold each other accountable for it. And we’re going to move forward with that. But it breaks up the year that allows you to change your direction as you grow and evolve. And I ended with a story talking about, you know, realizing that for me, as I grew in the year of health, realizing that a lot of my physical health issues actually stemmed from a lot of emotional health issues and older wounds that were inside of me that really were continuing to make decisions without my consent in my life. And so, I, you know, under the umbrella of the year of health could really dedicate myself to, you know, working on my mental and emotional health, my mental and emotional hygiene, and taking care of myself and understanding that in my endeavor to become a high-performance man, I inherently was going to become a high-maintenance man because high performance equals high maintenance.
[00:05:59] And so, when I’m writing my battle plans, they are focused on my theme. My theme, you know, as I said, you know, when I first discovered this and I started doing it was the year of health, last year, 2022, was the year of growth, and that was growth economically — growing my net worth, starting Fiscally Savage and starting to grow that, and really growing my financial coaching practice. I’ve been coaching for five years, but never as a serious look at making it a full-time endeavor of mine. And now, I am. And that was part of the year of growth. Other aspects in the year of growth was growing emotionally. Both with my connection with myself and my inner life, my inner world, but also with my children and with my wife. And so, my battle plans have always, all last year have focused on that theme, so much so that in Q4 of 2022, my calibration objective — and calibration is your relationship with yourself — my calibration objective was to engage in self-care every day in the form of — now, for those of you who’ve seen pictures of me, I don’t have hair. I shave my head, so shaving my head, trimming my beard and putting face moisturizer on, and putting oil, you know, beard oil in my beard, which was really hard. Getting to a place where I could actually love myself enough to be able to take that care. And what I noticed is that the more I took care of myself, the better I was able to show up for everyone around me.
[00:07:29] And so, I want to talk and I’ll be forward-looking into 2023, and my theme for 2023 is the year of emancipation. This, ladies and gentlemen, is kind of one of these things where I kind of feel it could also be called the year of being done fucking around. I have been working with the idea that we live in an intensely anti-human society for a good five years now. When I left education, this was something that had popped into my head that it takes a village to raise a child. And as a public school teacher and I taught in lots of different types of schools. I taught in private schools. I taught in public schools. And my last teaching engagement was at a public charter school. But the society and support network around that school just wasn’t there. In fact, it was designed to be anti-human, to be anti-child, to be anti-support. We were not supported as teachers, but at the same time it was actively trying to undermine things where we could innovate or we could show up for the students or go above and beyond.
[00:08:38] One great example of this is that as a teacher, I took my job very seriously, so I took time out of my schedule to open up the school on Saturdays and have study sessions. And it didn’t matter. They could bring anything they wanted and I was just going to help them study. Most of them came for math, but certainly not all of them. And eventually, I had a complaint from a student who complained that I did this on Sundays. And her complaint was that she felt that I was being anti-Christian by having it on Sundays, but Sunday was the only day that I didn’t work one of my additional jobs. And rather than support me, the school actually wrote me up for it. And so, that’s one example of how the society we live in is anti-human.
[00:09:22] So many of our systems around us are set up to monetize literally every aspect of your life. And if I’m gonna be entirely self-reflective, you know, I’m talking to you over a podcast, I engage with people on social media. And there is parts of me that are in fact trying to monetize things. I don’t monetize the podcast. There’s not advertisements on here. That might change in the future, but I doubt it. I try to make my money by adding value on an individual basis. So, you know, there’s a difference between that and that podcast you listen to that has 20, you know, advertisements on it or the YouTube videos that it’s like every five minutes. How many of your hobbies have been monetized? Or how many times do they tell you that like, well, if you wanna do your hobby, you have to make it your full-time job, thus monetizing the joy in your life? And a lot of those systems, not only are they monetizing and extracting from your life, but they tend to be very self-serving and supporting. The educational system in the United States is exactly this, and this is not shade against teachers who are in fact doing their absolute best with both hands tied behind their back. It’s looking at the system as a total whole.
[00:10:28] And I think one place that you can really see this is in food. And I’ve talked about this before. My own food journey has been fraught with a lot of things. And my physical health, I really sacrificed my body in a lot of ways when I quit teaching because I just couldn’t focus on that health. I focused on the accomplishment of everything else and, as a result, I gained a lot of weight. And then when I came back to try to correct that, I’ve discovered that I have a lot of mental and emotional blocks around that. I also discovered that food is this intensely human activity and like if you stop and think about it, we tend to have food when we’re happy and we tend to have food when we’re sad and we tend to bond over food and break bread together as human beings. This is a time-honored thing. If you go read historical context, if you look at different religions and their books, food is always central to it because most of human existence has focused on humans trying to get food. That’s one thing that we do. One of the defining things that has separated humans from nature is that at some point we realized how to do agriculture, which allowed us to grow these surpluses, which then prompted us to clear land. When we clear land, we clear all the animals off of it. We destroy entire ecosystems and habitats. And we do it to make food. Food is central to our entire civilization. We owe our existence to the fact that there is six inches of topsoil and it rains.
[00:12:02] And so, when you look at the industrial food system, which stepped in in many, many ways after World War II. Because during World War II, we figured out how to like can things and create this industrial food supply to keep armies in the field and marching. It stepped in to fill the void when a lot of women during the Sexual Revolution started pursuing careers. It’s, in my house, we run a scratch kitchen, but it’s really hard and requires a lot of energy and a lot of time to constantly be making recipes and, you know, making everything from scratch so that we can have good food to break with our children. The industrial food supply turns what we used to call plants or crops, we now call them commodities because they can be traded and monetized and they turn ’em into products, not food. They turn ’em into products. There isn’t, like go down the cereal aisle at your grocery store and ask “What plant did this come from?” It didn’t. It’s a product. It doesn’t resemble the food it came from. And in fact, if you’re looking at like just wheat production in the United States, we grow a certain type of wheat because it’s better for the machines and for transports, but it’s not as good for the end user. That is, you, the person who actually eats it. So, the industrial food system takes commodities, turns it into products with no markers of what humanity actually need. And then of course it’s all packaged to be quick and convenient, which entirely takes away from the preparation, the anticipation, the conversations. You know, a lot of times when I’m cooking with my family, there’s music and there’s laughing. My roommate and I, we both love to cook and so, we frequently are sharing the kitchen. And in that time there’s always music, laughter, and it’s a very bonding experience.
[00:13:46] And though that’s one part of it, the economic systems that we all participate in take us from point to point to the point that lunch is considered to be selfish. I’ve worked in jobs where I showed up at seven o’clock in the morning. It’s now one o’clock in the afternoon. I haven’t had any other water. And I have to remind myself that coffee is in fact not a food group and I need to eat lunch. And I’ve worked, when I worked on a factory, the idea of me taking lunch, we were not unionized, was considered to be selfish ’cause then, you know, we wouldn’t be able to meet our production schedule. Well, but breaking bread and meat-eating was this intensely human thing. And so, the economic system was incentivizing me to forego my own humanity in terms of my nourishment.
[00:14:32] And our social culture has degraded to the point where we’ve lost sight of what food even is. I’ve had people talk to me in, especially with, you know, after, you know, the death of George Floyd and a lot of the racial discussions that cropped up or didn’t in the United States, I’ve had a lot of people tell me a lot about what they perceive me to be culturally. And that’s always interesting because one of the questions I ask is like, “What is the signature dish of my people?” And I ask that not to be glib but because I legitimately have no idea. So much has changed in culture that if I look at it and say, well, there really isn’t a signature dish or my culture doesn’t really have food. I mean, I’m American, so I guess, what, hotdogs? But then again, you know, and I’m from just north of Chicago, so Chicago-style hotdogs specifically? But if you go back a couple of generations, there is this deep acculturated part of food that was nourishing to people. And it goes back to the idea like you show up at your grandma’s house and she’s just like, oh, you’re a growing boy. And, you know, pretty soon, like you’re sitting in front of a rack of lamb, right? Like that type of thing was common for a lot of people I knew growing up. And food culture is part of cultural identity, so when we lose that, we lose part of that cultural identity. And cultural identity is part of what makes humans human. So, I’m making a point with food that, you know, really our industrialized food supply, our fast food culture, our car dependency has really stripped us those things that have made us into essentially economic units.
[00:16:09] Let me give you another one: exercise. This is one that just kind of blows my mind and I wear a Fitbit. So, I hired a strength coach. I lift four days a week. I ruck most nights. And for those of you who don’t know, rucking is walking with a weighted backpack. So, I’m doing three miles with 30 pounds every night with some exceptions. But exercise itself is weird. Like if you really stop and think about it like ancient humans, like you go back 40 years, you know, hell, even go back a little bit further. Like the people who existed in society in the 1940s typically didn’t go to gyms. Like, yes, they existed, but they weren’t really things. And part of that had to do with like the humans existed in the gym called life. Like they walked everywhere. There were walkable neighborhoods and industrious people who wanted to go from Maine to Wisconsin on, you know, public right electrified rail could do so. It would’ve taken him a couple days but it was possible. And that gave rise to a lot of walkable communities. So, if you stop and think about it and, you know, if you start like digging into what was the physical output of your average human, your average human was designed to take about 15,000 steps in a day, give or take. And more to the point, there’s a lot of up and downs. You know, sitting on the floor, standing up, bending down to pick things up. It’s basically exercise. Like we actually have like whole systems like MovNat, you know, which is a great system. And I’ve, you know, worked out with that system a lot. But they’re essentially just mimicking stuff humans used to do as a matter of their everyday lives.
[00:17:43] And if you actually start looking into like longevity research, you discover these things called Blue Zones. And Blue Zones are where people routinely live well beyond the life expectancy of humans. And there’s a lot of discussions like, what is it about this blue zone? And of course, you know, the commercial vultures come swooping in and going, it’s green tea. Let’s find a way to package and monetize green tea. Well, from where I’m sitting and I’ve looked into these, there’s a couple things that all the Blue Zones seem to have in common. And it’s, you know, part of it is they all live in communities. Like that is to say like these people in their eighties, nineties have friends. And I don’t know where you’re sitting, but if you’re listening to this in the United States, chances are good if I look at my statistics in terms of my listeners, most of you are men somewhere between the ages of 20 and 50. And so, when I say that the most astonishing of Jesus’ miracles was making friends in his thirties, I think you all know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s really hard. So, in these Blue Zones, these are people who have had these friendships for longer than I’ve been alive. And that has a massive impact. Like statistically, people with friends live longer. And that’s just a fact. Why? Because they’re in a more human context. They also engage in cooking their food. They also typically eat communally. They also typically know exactly what’s in all their food. They typically break bread with people around them.
[00:19:09] But the other thing about it is that there’s lots of ups and downs in Blue Zones: getting up off the floor, walking upstairs, walking down to the market, moving their bodies all the time. But here in America, like especially when I’m working on an audit project at work and I’m really, really focused on it and the last month or so I’ve been really focused on a project at work, when I’m working from home, it is possible for me to have an entire day where I have meals that are made of leftovers, use the restroom, get my coffee, and when I look down on my Fitbit, I put maybe a thousand steps on if I haven’t worked out that day or I haven’t gotten to my ruck yet. And so, then when I go for my ruck, of course it’s like this new novel thing, like I’ve suddenly bravely walked out into the nature of my suburban hellscape and have walked in the darkness. Like somebody in a Blue Zone would think I’m absolutely insane that I’m walking for some sort of purpose that isn’t going down to the market to go play checkers with my friend. That’s humanity. And our society has stripped us of it. If you live in the United States, our car-dependent culture means that we can literally travel 30 miles to work and never speak to or see or interact with another human being other than flipping that guy the bird who cut us off. Like just stop and think about that. Think about then when if you vacationed overseas, like the places that we go to vacation, there’s walkable cafes and there’s laughing and there’s street performers. Like you’re constantly around humans. But our system and our society is set up to create just massive levels of friction to everything that isn’t just mindless consumerism, whether it’s of TikTok videos or crap off Amazon.
[00:20:51] And so, when I’m looking at this and I say, I’m here and this is the year of emancipation. This is the year I’m done fucking around. This is the year that I redesigned everything in my life to be human-focused; to live, as Henry David Thoreau said, to live deliberately; to bring as much into my life even if I have to use the hallmarks of civilization to do it. I’m going to endeavor to walk more places; to walk to my grocery store — it’s a mile away. I can do this. I’m gonna endeavor to spend more time around people. I’m going to endeavor to make my workstation into something that’s far more human; something that represents more of what the people in Blue Zones and their lives are. I want more joy and more nectar. I wish to be emancipated out of the anti-human society and start to create something new; something that is more human, more human-focused.
[00:21:54] And while on this show, ladies and gentlemen, and the show of course is Fiscally Savage, I focus on our money because money is a huge part of it. Because for me to go and live deliberately, I will pay a social cost. There will be things that don’t get to come with me. There will be people in my life that will not understand because that’s not their life and not their path. And there’ll be an economic cost. If I stop and think about it, like until Fiscally Savage becomes big enough that I can quit my nine-to-five job — and there’s nothing wrong inherently with a nine-to-five job — you know, I’m gonna essentially work in two jobs. So, I’m gonna be at my desk a lot because that’s how I make my money. Okay, well, maybe I need to get a treadmill. Maybe I need to build a platform so I can sit without a back to the chair so that I can work on my core. Whatever it is I’m gonna figure it out. And I’m going to be living the year of emancipation where I focus very intensely on the things that make us human and the human activities that edify all of us.
[00:23:00] This is the year where I hope that each and every single one of you have made a theme. And I’m hoping that that theme will help you walk away from your old lives. I hope that your theme will help you put down the systems that do not serve you. And I hope that theme will help you create something new; something for you; something that edifies you mind, body, and soul. This is my year of emancipation. This is the year where we separate ourselves from civilization and learn what it means to become savage.
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