151: 11 Things I Learned This Year


“No matter where you’re at or what you’re going through, it’s important to keep moving, keep your head up and keep going.”

Hey, guys! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio). In this podcast, we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

2018 was a bit of a dark year. I had a really hard time personally because there were a lot of things that I was going through with business, relationships, and everything in between. 

But I believe that through difficulty, we have the ability to transform into more complete and true versions of ourselves. We can do this every day through  Identity Alchemy

Now that it’s 2019 and the first episode of this year, I’m excited about bringing you guys some awesome guests and elevating more things over here with the podcast.

But before that, let me share with you what I learned from last year and hopefully it resonates with you and helps you where you’re at. Let’s get started.

#1: Keep Moving

As I said, 2018 has been a very hard year for me. But I also realized that no matter where you’re at, no matter what you’re going through, it’s important to move, keep your head up, and continue forward. Sometimes, things get hard and dark, but knowing that you’re going to get through it can help you get the courage to just move forward. 

More importantly, though, I think it’s important to know that there’s no need to rush. You’ve just got to take one step at a time. But if you don’t and choose to stay still, you stay stagnant, and you won’t live your life to its full potential. 

#2: Create Something Every day

I bought a bath mat that has this saying on it, “Create something every day even if it sucks.” So every time I get up in the morning and take a shower, I look at this mat, and I’m reminded of its truth. Sometimes, even if you just don’t feel like creating and making anything, you’ve just got to go through the process. 

The good thing about this is you’re going to get better and better if you just keep creating. Creating something is a hundred times better than creating nothing at all.

#3: Don’t Let the Scroll Get You

In 2018, I noticed that I got caught in the endless Instagram and the social media scroll. I think that it’s important to become mindful of the people that you put in your feed and how they make you feel. Follow people that are inspiring to you and don’t make you feel bad about yourself. 

It can be easy to get into a negative space of comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. You gotta be careful not to fall into that emotional trap. If you notice yourself doing that, maybe take a break from screens for a while, or transform social media into a great tool by following people that inspire you to create better art and do bigger things in life. Personally, I’ve curated my feed to that.

#4: Dive Inward and Do the Work

It’s definitely not easy, but personal development lets you explore a lot about yourself. Personally, I had to dive in and do the work  —whether it’s therapy, meditation, reading books, or going on a plant medicine journey

I believe that in order to truly alchemize your life, you have to dive in and work on yourself from the inside out. This is especially true when you’re going through a hard time and you’re feeling depressed. It isn’t a pleasant experience but it’s a crucial process in Identity Alchemy. Keep in mind, though, that it’s important to see the end of your journey. Have that silent confidence that you’ll get through it.

#5: Prioritize Your Health

The older I get, the more I want to take care of myself, both mentally and physically. Some of the things I started working on are…

  • I started working out every day or at least four or five days a week. It helped me stay healthy and feel better about myself and stay on top of things. 

I also started boxing earlier in the year, which is fun and a really great workout. I learned that if you keep moving, stretching, and doing different things, it’ll help take you out of your head. 

  • I’ve been eating a lot healthier. Not only is it good for my physical health, but it also made me pay better attention to what I’m feeling and my emotions.
  • Sleep is hugely important. I just did an episode with Shawn Stevenson on the benefits of sleep, particularly for body recovery. Also, sleep gives you better creativity and more productivity.
  • Take supplements so you’re assured that you have the vital elements your body needs.

#6: Let Yourself Feel the Dark Times 

I think in our society, we see feeling bad or being in a dark space as a purely negative experience.

But I think that we should let ourselves feel the dark times. Negative emotions are and should be okay, as long as you can deconstruct them to be the better version of yourself. That’s what matters more.

#7: Always Do Your Best

I think when you’re doing just what you can, there’s nothing else you can do but do better next time. But when you’re always doing your best, you’re delivering the best that you can 24/7. This is true, whether it’s within social situations or in your work, business, and family.

The book, The Four Agreements, emphasizes on the importance of doing one’s best. If you haven’t read it, you should definitely check it out. 

#8: Activate Creativity in All Aspects of Your Life

Something I think that we, as Creative Alchemists, should do is to activate our creativity in all aspects of our lives, particularly in business and marketing strategies. These aren’t my personal favorite areas, but I’ve learned, adapted, and grown over the years. I learned how to market and create new business opportunities to showcase and monetize my art.

So apply creativity to every aspect of your life. It could be any situation, but don’t stop challenging yourself to think outside the normal constructs of how you usually apply it.  

#9: Know That Not Everything Is What It Seems

#9 is an interesting one. I read Dr. Joe Dispenza‘s book, Becoming Supernatural, took his online course, and from there, I gained a deeper understanding of the science behind spirituality and how energy, our thoughts, turn to matter. These thoughts eventually manifest things in your life. 

I’ve also learned to elevate my consciousness and create what I want in life through vibrations. Creating goes deeper than just making things. It starts by curating your thoughts. By knowing that your thoughts create emotions and vibrations, you can create the environment you want around you.

#10: Find the Tools to Get Through 

This is hugely important, particularly when you’re experiencing these dark points in your life. 

The good news is there are tools I found to work for me. They are listed below and I encourage you to try them. Who knows, they might impact your life, too!

  • For me, the breathwork version of Wim Hof or the holotropic breathwork has been extremely helpful. It helped me get out of my head, default mode network, brain, and nervous system. 

The default mode network is that loop in your head that you get stuck in — the negative thought loop. A lot of times, that’s what causes depression, and the further you go down to that mental loop, the more neural pathways and neural nets you’re weaving. In the end, they become stronger, pulling you in deeper into depression and anxiety. Breathwork is the key to getting out of that pattern.

  • Also, the meditations that Dr. Joe has provided in Becoming Supernatural, together with his online course, have been hugely helpful for me. 
  • I also tried Vedic meditation
  • I’ve been into reading books, which were a big help. I started getting on audiobooks this last year and a half ago, and I’m just reading or listening to it everywhere! Insanely enough, I have crushed over probably 35 books in the last year, which is half more than I’ve ever read in my whole entire life.
  • Optimizing my sleep has been huge because I feel much better in the mornings and more creative. 
  • Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been exercising much more intentionally.

#11: Read a Lot of Books

As one of the before-mentioned tools, reading books and educating yourself is huge for self-development. You learn about yourself and how to interact with the world. You become a better version of yourself. 

A couple of the books that I’ve read this year were A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, Becoming Supernatural, The Big Leap, and so many others. I encourage you to read them or find books that vibe with your energy.

These were just the little nuggets of things that I learned over last year. I hope that you can try them too in your creative journey and let me know how it goes! 

Everyday Is An Opportunity to Alchemize Your Life

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Identity Alchemy as the process of deconstructing who you don’t want to be in order to create who you want to become. 

Through it, you’ll be able to identify your shadows and shed them slowly. I believe that the deconstruction process of life and your inner world is such a huge piece of understanding who you are so that you can curate who you want to become. In general, I noticed for myself that the more inner work that I do — the deeper shadow work that I do to understand myself — the better life becomes towards the path of wholeness.

We don’t really have to wait for a new year to transform our lives. Every day is an opportunity to change and reach our life’s fullest potential. I challenge everyone to take steps if you intend to make significant improvements in your life. It’s wonderful to have big goals and dreams, and it’s a pleasurable experience. However, instead of just daydreaming, you must take action to make them come true and live the life you’ve always wanted.

I’d like to invite everyone to check out my website for more wisdom and ways to alchemize your life. I’ve also been spending a lot of my time doing a couple of hat commissions, so visit onkenhat.com or follow @onkenhat on Instagram to see what I’ve been up to. You can order them yourselves, and book photoshoots with me.

Thank you once again for joining me today. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a screenshot, share it on Instagram, and tag me @nickonken. You can also listen to me on Apple Podcasts — don’t hesitate to give it a five-star rating and leave great reviews!

Now, go out there and make that moment a better version of yourself.

Thanks, everyone! I’ll catch you next time —

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“Do what it takes and dive inward. The only way to get up and through is to dive in.”

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • The importance of just keeping moving [2:11]
  • Why you should make something every day, even if it sucks [2:46]
  • Don’t let the scroll get you! [3:23]
  • Diving in and doing the work, and what that will bring you [4:42]
  • Why self-care should be a priority [5:44]
  • Let yourself feel the dark times [7:25]
  • Do your best in everything you can [8:08]
  • How to activate creativity in all areas of your life [8:42]
  • Not everything is what it seems [9:24]
  • Find the tools to get through and elevate yourself [10:31]
  • Read a lot of books and educate yourself [12:38]

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