2013: A Year in Review and 2014 Outlook

“What really ruins our characters is the fact that none of us looks back over his life. We think about what we are going to do, and only rarely if that, and fail to think about what we have done, yet any plans for the future are dependent on the past.”

-Seneca

2013 was the best year of my life.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to say that the past few Januarys about the year prior, and this one is no exception.

A year ago today, I was working two part-time food service jobs and as an unpaid volunteer for a local startup. Since then, I began my first full-time job in a beautiful city on the other side of the country, traveled more than ever before, made many new friends, met an amazing woman, and had some proud writing-related moments along the way.

While I still hold firm that January is the worst possible month to try and instill major changes in one’s life, sitting down with my journal in reflection at the end of December is one of things I look forward to most during the holiday season. Writing is therapeutic for me, and the turn of the year is the perfect time to take a look at what went right (and what went wrong) over the past 365 days, and to reset my direction and goals for the year to come.

Even just having 2012’s post to look back on was immensely helpful on days where I felt aimless. Also, making myself publicly air whether I succeeded or failed at a goal gives a sense of accountability to myself and an extra boost of motivation.

For anybody that really wants to make deliberate and conscious change in their life, I can’t recommend doing this kind of thing enough. It’s admittedly all the rage to do with self-development bloggers, and many more good examples can be found here.

How I Did With My 2013 Goals:

1. Write more. As in, at least 1,000 words a day. Because editing the book took much of the time that would normally be reserved for writing, this goal was often hard to meet.

2. Speak slower and more from my diaphragm. Thanks to ten months of public speaking practice through my job and Toastmasters, I believe I now do this unconsciously, and feel that I am hardly ever asked to repeat myself anymore. 

3. Touch people more (in a friendly manner)—my group of friends for whatever reason isn’t the biggest on hugging/handshaking hello and bye, and it’s silly, but I feel like we would be even closer if we did. Granted, I am now around a completely different social circle, but I feel that every greeting and parting is now consummated with a hug or handshake, regardless of how long I have known the person.

4. Call people on the phone more when driving longer than 10 minutes instead of listening to music. Rarely do I have a drive longer than ten minutes anymore, but when I do I feel that I usually take the opportunity to make at least one phone call to a family member or friend. However, I feel it always rotates between the same five or six people. We’ll call it a wash.

5. Drink a large glass of ice water upon waking up. Ha! Not proudly, I am instead up to at least five cups of coffee most days, and only switch to water when all the caffeine starts to put me on that jittery edge. At least I drink it black, right?

Five Things I Did Well:

1. Solved post-workday procrastination by getting up at 6am on weekdays to write for a solid hour instead of trying to do so in the evening. Not coincidentally, I ended up doing more writing in 11 months than the past few years combined.

2. I think my goal setting has become much more practical and ‘realistic’. Not that the things I want to accomplish aren’t still highly-ambitious, but I feel I am much better at setting a goal and laying out a practical plan to achieve it than when I was 23.

3. Reading more habitually. I found my brain ‘craving’ new knowledge when I would go even a few days without a book in my hand.

4. While it’s been a slow evolution, I think my weight in other people’s opinion of me has hit an all-time low. Probably not coincidentally, I have also found that I have been pursuing what interests me more, then inviting people along to whatever it is, as opposed to trying to plan outings around the interests of others.

5. It took me 25 years, but I finally learned to climb a rope. Thanks CrossFit!

Five Awesome Memories:

1. Did this reddit post as an afterthought and watched in disbelief as its upvote count climbed higher and higher throughout the day. It eventually landed on the front page, garnered over 1000 upvotes in 24 hours, brought more traffic to my site than every other day in its existence combined, and lead to a very successful self-development blogger to interview me as a case study for his ebook.

2. Went to California for the first time on a work trip, where I had the best seafood of my life, danced in a drum circle on Venice Beach, and was less than half a mile away from a tragedy (not a good memory, obviously).

3. Hiked two 14,000+ foot mountains–Grays and Torres Peaks. . .not bad for the first ‘real’ hike of my life (so it was a double summit, sue me).

4. Attended the United States-Costa Rica World Cup Qualifier match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in March in blizzard-like conditions.

5. Got involved in the local swing dancing community, made a ton of new friends, and learned a lindy hop routine which we performed at a retirement community and a few different Christmas parties.

Five Things I Will Do Better In 2014:

1. Manage my money. Between finally having a steady income, moving three times in 12 months, and throwing some caution to the wind in regards to making the book as good a product as possible, my financial situation could be better. It’s not catastrophic by any means, and all things considered is more than manageable, but it’s still not ideal. On January 1st I started keeping a budget spreadsheet for all expenses, and have been doing reading on frugality and money management. I also have the goal in mind of paying off 15% of my college loans while erasing all of my existing (albeit small) credit card debt.

2. Power up my platform. From where it was a year ago, my site has come further than I ever could have imagined. I couldn’t be happier with it, and that’s considering I haven’t put that much time into developing it. Armed with my copy of Platform, I plan to build my digital presence immensely in 2014 with these specific goals in mind:

  • Increase average unique visitors per day from 30 to 100
  • Increase Facebook fan page likes from 69 to 200
  • Increase Twitter followers from 190 to 250
  • Create at least 35 (high-quality) new posts throughout the year

3. Hable más español. In 2013 I strung together a few months of daily Spanish practice on Duolingo before falling off the wagon. I intend to pick things up again in 2014, and hopefully find someone that I can practice speaking with more regularly.

4. Remember names better. When meeting new people, I have the bad habit of focusing too much on what I am going to ask the person after the introduction, and their name often slips past me. I am hoping that following this guide will help get me in the habit.

5. Drink more water (at least 64oz a day) and an amount of coffee that won’t kill me young. It’s becoming a small tradition of mine to make this a resolution every year. . .and fail miserably. Try, try, again.

Bucket List Update:

17. Visited 5 new states, putting me at 29/50 (KS, WY, ID, UT, CA)

19. Attend the Great American Beer Festival (Denver, Colorado) (10/11/2013)

32. Become proficient in three styles of dance (1/3- Swing)

33. Compete in a CrossFit, Olympic lifting, or similar fitness competition (5/25/13- CrossFit Pandora’s Box In-House Competition | Colorado Springs, CO)

44. Have a wall in my home covered with soccer scarves from the places I have been (modest start but it counts!)

Bucket List Items I Think I Can Realistically Complete in 2014:

12. Volunteer my time to a charity that is important to me

17. Visit at least two new states

41. Learn five full songs on piano

90. Attend a college basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse (Lawrence, Kansas)—my girlfriend is a massive KU fan and got me tickets to a January game.

Inspirational Video I Was Most Addicted To In 2013:

Expect to see the new, more professional-looking site layout (preview in this post) to launch sometime in mid-January. I am also going to be shifting my content’s focus in a slightly different direction than what it has been previously—much more on that (and my next big project) in the next post.

What did you learn in 2013, and what are your goals for 2014?

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