2014 Annual Review

As a now committed attendee of World Domination Summit, I tend to follow along quite a bit with Chris Guillebeau‘s blog. Every year he does an annual review, which I think is a good idea to put things in your life into perspective, both to give you some idea of how your year went and what you accomplished, as well as help you prepare goals (NOT resolutions) for the upcoming year. I don’t always go too in-depth when I do any kind of annual review, but last year at the end of the year, I was privileged to have quite a bit of time off from work relaxing in Maui. This gave me plenty of time to think about the past year as well as what I wanted to be different in the new year. I found it pretty refreshing, and I’m looking forward to having some time off at the end of this year as well.

Lately Chris has posted about working on his annual review, so I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at 2014 for myself and how it went. He advocates starting with the questions “What went well this year?” and “What didn’t go well this year?”, which seems like a pretty simple but effective approach to take. So that’s what I did. Let’s see what my outcome was.

What went well in 2014?

Well, it made me feel good that the list of things that went well was much longer than the list of things that didn’t go well. I’ll try not to bore you too much, but here is what I came up with that went well for me this year.

I got to ring in the new year in Maui, which gave me time to evaluate. I really feel like that was a great way to end a year and begin a new one. I mean, obviously Maui itself was fantastic, but I’m actually talking more about having the time to reflect and plan. It was really helpful for me.

I covered the Phoenix Film Festival as press. This was an awesome experience for me. I was privileged to see and review some great films and meet some really cool new people that I look forward to staying connected with. (I’m looking at you, The Showerpeople!)

I attended World Domination Summit and visited Portland for the first time. This was an amazing experience, and one I hope to repeat again for many years to come.

I traveled to Charlotte, NC for work and got to meet my work team in person. I work with a lot of cool people, but we have a team that is spread out over the globe, and I am the only one in Arizona. It was fun to finally meet some of them and have real faces and experiences to put with names and voices I hear over the phone every day. This trip also resulted in getting assigned to a specific project to work on, providing some much-needed clearer direction at work.

We bought a house! Ricky and I moved into a really great house that we absolutely love. It’s bigger with more storage, a garage, a really awesome view. There’s a lot of cool things we like about it, and we are looking forward to enjoying it for at least the next few years.

Ricky and I took a road trip up the West Coast for vacation. It wasn’t the vacation we originally planned, and it didn’t go 100% perfect (but what vacation does?), but it was a good experience nonetheless. We started out by driving to San Diego, taking a train to Portland, then driving to Vancouver and Seattle and flying back from there. The worst parts were a 9-hour train delay, a 3-hour delay at the border both in and out of Canada, and then a big fight our last night there (just being honest… couples do fight!). But all around, it was a very fun experience, and we got to try a LOT of new beers.

I consolidated all of my credit card debt, allowing me to pay all of it off within three years. Not too much to say about this one, really, but it did give me some peace of mind. If you are in debt and struggling to pay it (or just want to have an easier payment and ensure you pay it off relatively quickly), I highly recommend a company called Upstart. I was glad to find them and realize this opportunity was out there.

I was able to go back to Indy to visit friends and family. At first, I wasn’t sure that this was going to happen this year. But, after making some financial changes, I secured a plane ticket and made it out to visit for a few days. I got to see family and enjoy a dinner with quite a few friends while I was there, and I hope to be able to make it out more often in the future.

Ricky and I continued our tradition of visiting San Diego for Thanksgiving. So far, we have done this every year since we moved to Arizona, and it seems to work out well. We’ve gone with different people every time, but it’s always a fun trip and a tradition we hope to continue. This year we actually found a great place to stay via AirBnB. We met the owners of the house we stayed in, and they seem excited to have us come back and stay there again next year.

Recently, my work environment has improved. Pretty much all of the various frustrations I had with my job at different points this year have been eliminated. My biggest source of frustration was my commute (an hour each way), which has been solved by moving to an office location much closer to home, along with being permitted to work from home a bit more as well. This has caused my stress level to go down quite a bit. Also, after learning a lot of new things on the project I’ve been working on, it looks like there is the possibility for a promotion next year, so we’ll see what becomes of that.

I made some progress in my journey to being healthier. It might not seem like much progress (at least it doesn’t to me, but more about that later on in things that DIDN’T go well), but I did find a gym that I like (even if I still don’t go often enough) and I have pretty consistently been following a recipe and meal plan that includes healthy dinners that I cook at home. It’s really helped me to learn more about cooking, and I actually enjoy it quite a bit as well.

I surpassed my goal of reading 30 books this year.  Goodreads allows you to set a challenge for yourself for a number of books you want to read in the year. Last year, my goal was 25, which I made. This year, I increased it to 30, and I have already surpassed that number by 7 books. I’ve definitely enjoyed making an effort to read more this year, and I’ve found some really good books as well as shared a few book discussions with friends.

What did not go well this year?

We won’t look at this as bad, just learning experiences, right? There aren’t that many here, but as I tend to be very hard on myself most of the time, I still take these very seriously and they get to me. I just need to look at them as attitudes to change, or goals to work harder towards next year.

Ricky and I were not able to do our initial plan for vacation this year, which was to go to Oktoberfest in Munich. This was a decision that I made because I just didn’t feel like I really had the money to spend on this this year. We were sad to miss it, but with finances in better shape and a renewed commitment to doing it, we are looking forward to making this a definite vacation for 2015.

I did not really lose any weight and pretty much failed miserably at being consistent with working out and eating healthy. While I do now have a gym I like and a plan of attack for eating healthy, my laziness and enjoyment of food still won out this year. It’s mostly just due to a lack of consistency. I need to work on continuing to stay focused on the end goal instead of letting short-term rewards win out so often.

I honestly probably spent more money than I should have this year. Despite feeling like I have my finances under better control, there were plenty of purchases that I made this year that were probably not the best financial decision. I don’t necessarily regret any of them, however, I do see this as a challenge to take on for next year – to spend my money more wisely, and again, not let short-term rewards win out.

I did not really push myself to get out of my comfort zone all that much. There are a lot of things in my life that I feel could be improved if I got out of my comfort zone more often. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, right? Some of the best things that happened this year were actually the result of when I DID get out of my comfort zone (coughWDScough), so I can only imagine how awesome of a year I will have in 2015 if I make an active decision to allow myself to be uncomfortable more often.

So there you have it. I promise there will be an upcoming post soon about what my goals and plans are for 2015, but maybe I’ll save it for after 2015 actually begins. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about some of your experiences this year. What went well for you in 2014? What went not so well?