3 month Project Self Improvement – COMPLETE! How did I do?!

Alright, the proof of the pudding is in the eating right? Well here we go…

I took 3 months off backpacking to ‘live’ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during July, August and September. My last travel stint took me through Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and all throughout most of the rest of the pacific islands. It was pretty hardcore and I was needing a break. That combined with the fact that my next trip is through the ‘Stans (Kyrgysztan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey) meant that I really needed some down time in between, so I gave myself 100 ‘stationary’ days to work on my Thai language skills, my health and fitness, my personal life and my business life.

A lot of people moan and complain about not achieving things, about not fulfilling their potential. It p*sses me off to be honest, this is your life. Do something amazing. Achieve something. And don’t wait for it to happen, go and get it, and do it today. Victim complexes do nothing for me, but aspirations – that’s something beautiful. I aspire to be bigger, better, smarter, richer and I’m going to make it happen. These 100 days are a micro-example of that.


Traveling isn’t healthy, or at least not normally. I used to be in decent shape, but with business taking off I found myself eating and drinking too much. I always usesd to lose a lot of weight when I traveled and I assumed that was just how it was, turns out I lost weight cos I was poor and my travel budget was prioritized over my food budget. Since my budget had changed, my waistline was expanind, and it’s not cool. I hadn’t worked out in 18 months (EIGHTEEN MONTHS!), wow that’s criminal. Anyway, it was time to put that right. So I hired a personal trainer in Kuala Lumpur, a very awesome Iranian dude. I worked out almost every day with him, for 100 days. I cut out booze (drunk once in 3 months, a tough ask for an Irishman, believe me), I cut out soft drinks, I cut out snacks, chocolate, crisps everything.

Unfortunately because I was so depressed about my body before I started my fitness regime, I didn’t take any before pics, which I regret now. Rest assured, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I was overweight, but with no muscle mass. I could barely lift the bar on the bench press, now I can max out at 100kg. All thanks to my personal trainer, he was unreal.


My body fat dropped from 12.5% to 7.4%, I increased muscle mass by 5kgs and decreased fat by 4kgs. I weigh around 79kg now.

johnny ward fitness travel
That’s me holding my belly in on the left, I put on 4 more kgs before I started the gym – it’s embarrassing to look. But i’m happy with the 11 week transformation 🙂

Happiness factor?

8/10 My diet could have been better, but with no oven in the apartment, I couldn’t grill chicken etc so I had to fry a lot of stuff.  I’m still far from my goal body shape, but in 11 or 12 weeks, I’m delighted with my progress.


Bangkok is my base, and although I can speak Thai to a pretty decent level. I could never read or write it. It was time to fix it. I signed up to a 10 week course in Kuala Lumpur, at the local YMCA. Unfortunately it was only one day per week, so every Saturday for 3 hours I studied. I downloaded a chunk of apps and I tackled the 44 consonants, the 28 vowels and the 4 tonal marks.

Finally I’ve got the alphabet down. Can I read and write Thai now? Not quite, but I can sound it out finally and I’m slowly getting there. I could (should) have studied harder, so I’m a little disappointed in myself but I’m still happy with my progress here too.

learning thai in malaysia

Happiness factor: 5/10


Stationary, non-travel life. Wow. Normally when I don’t travel I’m based in Bangkok, Thailand. But my gf just moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to start a new job as a flight attendant for Air Asia so I went with her. Kuala Lumpur is a cool city, but it’s not a touch on Bangkok. I enjoyed my time here, food in little India, China town markets and the Petronas Towers dominating the skyline. It’s good memories, but my time was mostly focused on gym and business so I didn’t really delve too deep into KL. I have no regrets about that though, this was about my life progression, not about learning the ways of Malaysia.

Although I was officially stationary for 3 months, I still managed a long weekend in Bangkok, a few days in the Perhentian islands, and of course my 100th country in the Maldives. Not too much travel at all, but my feet are getting itchy and for sure 3 or 4 months is the maximum I can do this for before I wanna do something more adventurous.

Chilling in the Perhentian Islands,   Malaysia
Chilling in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Finally I’m in a position to treat the people I love, whether it’s new motorbikes in Malaysia or holidays for my family, it feels good to finally give back to the people who’ve given me so much over the years.

I truly feel free now, and it’s something I’ve always wanted. If I wanna help someone I care about, I can do it. If I wanna fly to Argentina tonight, I can do it – it’s such a liberating concept, one I spent years dreaming about as I rode on $1 trains alongside goats in the Pakistan/India border. Life is good, and long may it continue.

Happiness Factor: 9/10


I made HUGE strides here during my 100 days. In the first month I broke my revenue record, 2nd month I broke it again, 3rd month broken again. I cracked $50k revenue in a month for the first time, expanded my businesses by almost double, hired my first 2 full-time western staff then hired 2 more (starting November 1st).

I became a partner in an internet start-up in Hong Kong which looks promising (findatutor.com.hk, should be launching in a few days).

I’ve diversified my income streams a lot and have got even bigger plans in the pipeline, all created from being stationary here(and maybe also from not partying 3 nights a week?). I’m excited with the direction in which my businesses are moving and I genuinely believe I can make $1m in a year very soon.

johnny ward business
Expanding the empire from the Maldives #livingthedream

I am however very disappointed with how infrequently I’ve blogged here at onestep4ward.com, and that’s something I’ll constantly try to fix.

Happiness Factor: 9/10 (the lack of blogging keeps the score down)

So my 100 days of self improvement have been a success. I let myself down a little with my Thai studies, but with business, fitness and life going well I won’t beat myself too hard about it

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