2014 was a good year.
2014 was a year of landing, of digging roots, and gaining momentum.
The two regular habits I use to look at the year past and the year ahead, declaring my new years resolutions and drawing a tarot card on my birthday, are being complemented this year by a third exercise during this period of introspection: the Annual Review.
It works like this: what went well last year, and what could have gone better?
Two simple questions. Two simple lists. (I just love lists.)
My victories for 2014:
Landed in a new home – after moving so many times in a twelve month period, I am grateful to be living in one place, and not spending half of my home life figuring out how to get the chores done.
Steady paycheck doing really interesting work – I love freelancing, but the financial roller coaster sucks when you’re the sole breadwinner for an entire family. Emerging from the poverty cycle this year has been a slow and difficult process, and it’s only because I finally have steady income that I feel I can do it.
Reached 10,000 hours in my craft – The concept of 10,000 hours was introduced by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, as a measurement of the time it takes to achieve mastery of something. I did the retrospective math one day when I realized: in three hours I wrote a big long blog post, with custom quote images for social media sharing, a video excerpt and plenty of SEO, and the email copy I wrote to promote the blog post went out to 190,000 people. I didn’t have to figure any of this out, I just did it, and I did it well.
Breakfast coffee in the morning with my wife – before the kids wake up, the last part of my morning routine is chatting with my wife over coffee. This has been a welcome respite from the hectic business of parenting and career, and a great time to focus on each other.
The best date of my life – when we reached 10 years of marriage, my wife and I had one helluva date. It took all day, and we went to all of our favorite places in Portland to do all of our favorite things. Some of those details are confidential, so just take my word for it.
Broke 1000 daily views on my blog – when I wrote about the lessons learned from a decade of marriage, I broke one of my personal ceilings. My previous record for my April Fool’s joke in 2013 was reaching 997 views on this blog in one day, so breaking the 1000 view limit was a good personal milestone.
Homeschooling with the kids – the big kids are creating these amazing books to showcase all the classes and activities they have done, and escorting them to theatrical performances and science classes has been really fun. Next year, we start trapeze!
Made good new friends – I’ve gotten to know some friends and colleagues really well this year, and having close friendships and working relationships was one of the biggest things I lacked in Costa Rica.
Becoming known in the PDX blogging community – I’ve made friends with lots of local bloggers this year, and many of them know who I am and what I’m about. When I saw the company I kept in Jonathan Mead’s twitter replies, I felt like I had leveled up.
Morning writing and morning routines went well – but they were sporadic. I’ve becoming really adept at crafting a morning routine; although sticking to them has not been 100% successful, I enjoy calibrating my morning routines to perfect my entrance into the day.
Superhuman Operating System – I went through a personal development program hosted by a good friend in a small group. We met every week to discuss big ideas on how to improve ourselves. I now have access to an immense library of personal development programs as well, and my daily commutes are filled with expansive ideas that make me into a better person.
These things could have gone better in 2014:
The basement – I have rats in my basement, and I am in a continual battle to keep them at bay. We also have a flooding issue, which makes my library hazardous. I tried to have a home office down there for a while, but the stench and the threat to my library was too much; now my office is in boxes.
Weekly Reviews – I have been ignoring them, and as a consequence, my inbox is full of things I have been meaning to get to. I don’t like the feeling of not having everything done, assigned, or delegated, so I’m renewing my commitment to have a weekly review every week in 2015.
Fitness routines – my exercise has been very sporadic this year. I do it sometimes, and usually with a low intensity. I’ve gotten really good at the midday cardio break, but I need more intensity. I never push myself very hard when I am by myself, but if I am in a group class, or with a trainer, I go beyond my limits. That’s what I need this year, so I’m getting a yoga pass and starting January with unlimited yoga classes.
Doing more than delegating – because I work fast, and aim for a high standard of quality, my tendency is to do everything myself, instead of delegating things that I might have to re-do later if I don’t like how they are done. This has kept my productivity artificially lower than it could have been, because I am not trusting others to do things that are taking up my time.
Not enough active imagination play with my kids – when we make a treasure hunt together, or put together a play, or a new story, we are having more fun than ever. I don’t do this type of play enough, mostly because I feel tired or rushed.
Freelancing income is too sparse and sporadic – for the first half of this year, amidst family moves and the typical chaos that comes with parenting, we were reliant almost exclusively on any money I could make through my web design business. All of my work was project work, so I was continually having to hunt for new clients. With retainer clients, or a regular job, I can focus more on my digital craft, and worry less about how the bills are going to get paid. It makes a huge difference to me now; the first half of the year was really slow going, on a lot of levels.
My blogging schedule broke down – I only posted to this blog 12 times in 2014, and less to my business blog. This could be because I recognized the need for a full-out rebrand, so now I’m doing the difficult work of audience research and brand development that I typically skipped in past projects. The biggest thorn in my side this year: I never blogged about the Unconventional Treasure Hunt, which should be on my victory list above. It was the first productive culmination of a project I’ve been working on for six years, and I’ve got everything I need to blog about it and put it in my portfolio, but I never found the time. I’m like the cobbler, with tattered shoes – I blog a lot for other people, but I neglect my own blog frequently.
All in all…
Plan for 2015
I’ve got some good resolutions planned, to calibrate my habits, and ensure I’m living my life the way that I want to live. Looking back at 2014, it was a year with more victories than losses, and some of those victories will resonate for the rest of my life and career.