The end of the year
As we walk into a new calendar year, I want to take the time to lay out what went well, what happened unexpectedly, and what went wrong. Each of these things have a lesson in them, especially the failures, and documenting them helps not only me, but anyone who reads them know that there are lessons in anything.
The end of December is a great time to deal with clean slate thinking (since everyone else is) and work out what didn’t go well and what did go well over the last year. It was both exhilarating and painful to write this, but so is anything else that’s good.
What happened in 2015
I spent the last few days sitting over and thinking about the goals I set in 2015, and what they mean for me. Usually when I do this, I try to pull a bunch of notebooks out and crawl over the notes, hoping to find some nugget of wisdom to move into the next year, but having this blog, and forcing myself to go through that process every month, made me sharper in dealing with whats important and knowing what to write.
So, my process got better. But what did I do that got better over the last year?
- I expected to get more confident – I wasn’t confident. Over the last few years, I saw my confidence erode due to problems at work, an expanding waistline, and, dealing with some of the darker sides of comedy. So, I made a point to get confident again. It started with reading, then doing. Tools like online workshops meshed with networking events. Building my contact list and providing value to the people on it gave me more juice. By the end of 2015, I am starting to feel like the old me again, and I love it since my plans for 2016 involve me making a few scary leaps.
- Better read – I worked myself into a good reader. I started the year as an “ok” reader, taking time to read when I could, but by the end of the year I got back to enjoying books. It’s become a bit of an addiction. The benefits are tremendous. 100 books later I feel like a better reader and a writer. I read so much I learned I had to change my strategy though, but more on that later.
- Connecting more with family/friends – It felt like I didn’t talk to anyone in 2014, but now my relationships are in a great place. It started strangely, automating my texts to friends and family (sounds cold but it worked by forcing me into a conversation) and then eventually spending more time.I made sure the time meant more too with no cell phone, no computer, no books. I put my attention on them.
- Clutter – I started this year with a ton of stuff. Now I don’t have that stuff anymore. It’s nice to walk in my apartment and have room to move and nothing to clean up. I feel like my mind freed up.
- Physical Appearance – It’s always interesting to see how things morph. At first I thought of ways to exercise, but I found out about coaching in February and took a chance. She walked me through and taught me a ton over the 6 weeks we worked together, and now I am the sharpest guy in the room most days. That gave me the confidence to lose weight (down 30 pounds this year) and work on the other parts of my appearance (Sharp haircut, shoes, etc)
- The video blog – I never thought about doing video until this year. I hated recording. Now, I am glad its out there. Its been a way for me to try to understand how I come across, and work to get better in a medium that is just getting more and more widespread.
- My social media – I read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World in 2014 and thought I understood it, but it took almost a year of thinking, and finally experimenting (because of this blog) to get the most out of the book.
- This blog – Speaking of the blog, I knew I was going to write more in 2015, but to look at this now and see that I’ve done over 300 posts in a year amazes me. I’ve become a better writer, better at getting my ideas out, and better at delivering content. I can’t wait to see what lessons writing for over 350 will do for me next year. Better content begets better content.
- Being a Godfather – I am the godfather to a wonderful baby girl(Hi Skyler). Very important to me and a cherished honor, especially since my life was headed for calamity at the time of her birth.
- Jury Duty – After having a period of crisis earlier in the year(A lot of flux and starting a bunch of scary experiments that turned into the wins above) I received a jury summons. It was the last thing I wanted. What I thought would be just an interesting experience to check out the courthouse for a day turned into 4 months away from work. I got to do a lot of thinking and reading during this period,and it changed my life for the better. An experience I recommend for everyone.
- Job – For all my personal wins, my job suffered. I concluded that I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. My chance at delivering my best isn’t here, so 2016 is a year I venture into the new.
- Submitting content – Where I was great at generating content, I was horrible at submitting it . I put out 1 guest post and ended up doing 1 writing packet. Number I won’t repeat in 2016.
- Calendar – I didn’t give deference to my calendar. I learned how to deal with the tactics, but never invested in it emotionally.
- Comedy – I didn’t do it nearly the amount I wanted to in 2015. There were pockets of working on it every day, and weeks where I didn’t see a stage.
- Meditation – Like comedy, fits and spurts. The good news is, I could have said the same thing for the blog, and now its a pretty strong habit.
What will happen in 2016
The future is interesting because it isn’t set. If you would have told me that I would spend a quarter of my year in a courthouse last December I wouldn’t believe you. Life changes, and to try to plot it out in on big chunk isn’t the way to go.
So, its time to experiment, and go for something newer that gives me direction, while letting my mind roam. I am going for big themes and little milestones.
By doing it this way, I am going to learn a ton and make some mistakes, but the plan is to have my 2016 process get bigger. I spent 2015 looking at what was in front of me instead of the big picture planning that introduces huge reward.
My biggest failures are failures of execution. It’s also where I find the most opportunities. This year, some places I executed well (this blog) and some places I executed badly (brand expansion). One of the things I want to focus on in 2016 is how to expand on executing not just for myself, but for the community around me.
Some of the greatest lessons come from cutting things away. I learned that in 2015. I want to expand on it in 2016. What can I remove in my life, a physical or emotional object, that will let me know that everything is OK – that life goes on. I did it with my cell phone for a month and if I handled that, I know I can handle much more.
I read over 100 books. This was great, but only a first step. I never plan on reading 100 books again. My plan going forward, is to pick a great choice of books that I read through last year, and study them fully. I did this on accident with Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World , but now I plan on doing it on purpose with several books I read this year. I will still take in a new book and read it, but I want to put my energy in the books that have the most to share, because often you don’t get everything out of it on the first read.
Communication was always scary to me. In my past,I dealt with a ton of shoot the messenger (i.e. getting in trouble for bringing bad news) so I learned how to avoid saying things. What I thought was a strength turned out as a weakness. Vulnerability is critical here, because often the reason I don’t make the first move is fear that the other person won’t like it.
Around September this year I had a frightening observation. When I looked around me, I only saw what was in front, I never looked down the road. I rarely pursued my legacy.I am not going to repeat this mistake. Now its time to take a swing at big ideas, and I will keep up time to work on just that. Clean up time is over, now its time to bat for the win.
This was a good year. I ended up fixing a lot of the problems I had. It led to huge development, not just in my self, but network and community.
I think the 5 themes for 2016 only help building those three things and in a year, I will be back here, revisiting how that worked, and how it makes me work. If you have any questions, please tweet me and lets discuss your goals and plans.