I think Ubud, Bali is the mecca for people who have gone 180, or are in the middle of 180 or are about to embark on 180. I know it was that for me. In fact, my time in Bali is what sparked the idea for creating this platform. On that trip to Bali I met several locals. I was out to dinner one night with Bassam Younes (you might recall my story of rebirthing with him, if you don’t recall it, it’s worth the read with a major WOAH) when Nik Wood said hello to us.
At 6 feet 6 inches tall, Nik is 50% Canadian and 50% Nicaraguan, with big bold eyes and a huge smile, he just can’t be missed. Nik and his friends joined our dinner table and we got to talking about life coaching and various ways in. Nik had recently moved to Bali from Korea. Three months into his stay in Bali, and he’d already launched his first podcast, Life Athletics, which proves his thesis through interviewing incredible individuals that life can be likened to a game, and we can all level up in key areas.
With over 20 countries under his wing, Nik still doesn’t consider himself to be extraordinarily well traveled. Perhaps it’s because of all of the people who are travelers he meets passing through Bali. He describes Bali, “It’s like the front porch and you can watch the world come by.”
As Nik describes in our interview below, his biggest 180 began about three years ago and it has nothing to do with his travels which have provided opportunities to live in places like Korea, India and Bali and to backpack from Mexico to South America. Nor does his biggest 180 have anything to do with the variety of jobs he’s held, from jewelry design to personal training, from working at a zoo to working in film production (no, those aren’t the same thing). Rather, Nik’s biggest 180 has been a shift in his own perspective, a shift that began for him in Korea and has been amplified by living in Bali.
“Bali amplifies experience,” Nik shared with me on a recent video chat, “It either pulls you in or kicks you out. If you come with love, it will amplify that, if you’re seeking anything therapeutic, it will amplify that too." That’s why Bali is a great place for the open minded who want to work on themselves. It’s been a place where Nic shifted his “normal.”
“Three years ago I was not allowed to be happy,” he admitted, "I had to accomplish a laundry list of things before I was allowed to be happy. Like I needed $10 million in the bank for one. Then I realized that I was the one denying myself permission to be happy and I couldn’t accomplish anything on that list from a place of not being happy.”
With that, Nik set out on his 180. It became time for him to turn his experience of his life on its head.
He began setting goals for himself that were smaller and tangible. He focused on what he could do daily to create medium and longer term shifts within him. This included a morning ritual of hydration, breath work, stretching, chanting and writing. He even got a seasonal affective disorder headlamp that he used each day and, in that same time frame, he stopped drinking alcohol.
In Korea at the time, he lived among ex-pats who were English teachers. He loved the environment but also described it as a perpetual Spring break. Drinking was the normal, but Nik stopped enjoying it. He said, “I wanted to give myself a real shot (at transformation).” Though Nik didn’t have a problem with alcohol, he didn’t see a need to be an alcoholic to give up something that wasn’t serving his highest potential.
Transformation and 180 take consistent work. Nik summed it up nicely when he said, “(My role is to) embody the possibility that transformation is possible. I haven’t been hiding that it’s been a process for me and I believe that its possible for everyone on the planet."
What's been the most impactful 180° change you've made in your journey so far?
This is not an easy answer. In many ways I feel like a large ocean liner: it feels like it’s taken me a long time to turn myself around and change paths.
The most impactful 180° change I’ve made has been to shift my thinking from “this is something I’ll do one day” to “this is what I’m doing now” and launch my podcast. I’d been working away developing the ideas behind Life Athletics for nearly a decade. I’d interviewed NBA players, Olympians, award-winning business people and no one really knew. Launching the podcast literally put my voice out into the world and declared this is who I am.
You've 180’d geography, jobs, ways of thinking and being: is there a quote or a mantra that has helped you make transitions in your life easier?
“In life you can have what you want or the reasons why not. They’re not the same thing.”
“What do I want, how do I get it?”
You'd been thinking about the concept of Life Athletics for some time, what did it take from you to finally take the leap to pursuing pushing that message out there with the rigor that you do now?
I had to ask myself who I wanted to be in life. Waiting until I was ready was not getting me any closer to the me I wanted to be. Knowing that life is short, I figured that getting myself on the path was the only thing that would give me what I wanted. What I want is to be living in a world where people are actively working to grow themselves for the betterment of all.
How can we become Life Athletes?
First it’s important to look at life like a game. We are all playing although we’re all playing slightly different versions and at different levels.
Identify the parameters of your game, the rules, the outcomes that you view as wins in each area of life (I identify eight training areas: Mind Body, Work, Play, Finances, Relationships, Inner game, Outer game) and then ask if you’re being the person you need to be in order to get those outcomes. At that point it’s a choice. Play full out, or not.
How does living in Bali impact your ability to pursue Life Athletics? Do you think that there are different cities and climates that naturally agree with certain people more than others?
Bali has been great. It’s a place where people from around the globe come to grow and develop themselves. There is a constant influx of people looking to grow their business, have their minds, bodies, and spirits thrive. There’s also an element of adventure to being in a place like this that I wouldn’t necessarily have in the west. I can live a simple life here where I work and spend time with friends but here it feels exotic and I like that.
What's a day in the life like for you?
I’m usually up by 6:30 at the latest. I do some breathing exercises, body weight movements, and do something to set my mind in the direction I’d like it to be for the day.
From there I’m usually on a call with clients, or a coach, or someone in the west by 7 am. Those calls might stack and I’ll be at that for a few hours. At brunch I do some writing and set intentions for the rest of the day.
I’m in a build phase for my business and so I’m trying to get as much done as possible and despite being in Bali and what people think that means, I’m working full days.
In the evenings I’m usually playing ultimate frisbee or participating in some kind of dance event.
Read, sleep, rinse, repeat.
What do love right now?
I love seeing how simple it can be to find joy and live well.
If you could go back and give your former self one piece of advice, how old would you be and what words of wisdom would you give?
I have often dreamed that of what I’d do if I could go back in time and shift something from my past, like in the show, Quantum Leap. My answers have varied through the years but I think I would have changed what I did when I dropped out of university. In fact I would have left sooner and just explored. I would have explored the world and explored myself. I wanted to fly to Asia then and spend my winters somewhere warm and my summers working in the film industry in Toronto as I had been for years. I think it’s so important to find that inner strength to follow your own path. I was worried at the time that people would disapprove and so I didn’t drop out of school until late 3rd year after I was totally burnt out and depressed. I ended up going back to school and having a grand time. That part of the story, I’d keep the same.
How can the community support you?
You can share your stories of finding your path as that inspires the hell out of me.
You can connect me with people who you’d like to hear on the podcast. I’m always looking for new and amazing people to have on the show.
You can go out and live as well as you know how and be the person you're called to be to make this species inch closer to what we can collectively be, amazing.