The Year in Review, 2013

Before heading into 2014 it’s helpful to look back at the year past and reflect, on both the great and bad things. I don’t dwell much on the past, but looking at previous actions, especially the instructive failures, helps me make tweaks to how I do things.

This year I’m going to try using Chris Guillebeau’s format for running an annual review, which starts with asking two simple questions: 1) what went well this year? 2) What did not go well this year?

What went well

  • I created and released a video course on Udemy in Feburary. It was my first major creation effort ever and I learned so much from the process.
  • I spent a solid month in Boulder learning from the instructors at APEX Movement. Such an epic experience. I learned more there about movement in a month than I could have by myself in a whole year.
  • I wrote my first big e-book. Again, my first major creation effort of that type. I taught myself InDesign to pull it off, and now that I understand the format better I’m working on version 2.
  • Travel to Europe continued. This time with a visiting a friend in Amsterdam, spending time visiting friends again in Iceland, and farming in Iceland and Ireland. I pushed myself far harder in Iceland than expected, both on the farm and off, and came back tougher for it. Or maybe it was just all the fresh milk, yeah.
  • Workshops: I was lucky enough to teach small workshops in both Amsterdam and to two groups of elementary school students in Iceland where I was staying.
  • Local Teaching: I took over the reins of local classes in Chapel Hill without any serious hiccups (so far). This is probably a bigger deal for the future than I’m making it out to be right here.
  • Experiments with staying away from the internet more often have mostly cured me of a number of bad habits, including the hardest to slay: habitually checking email or facebook for updates.

What didn’t go well (abridged)

  • I failed at the Quest as I had originally conceived it. More on that after all these bullets.
  • I’ve done extremely poorly when it comes to marketing and promotion well, pretty much everything I’ve been doing, but particularly the course and e-book.
  • Trying to build the systems for a business while traveling was a horrible idea, and left me more strapped for funds than I had expected. This on top of not understanding how to deal with international invoices left me not getting paid for the workshop in Iceland and unable to make a planned visit to Finland.
  • Ambitious content creation plans hit the wall of procrastination and lack of planning. I’ve had major updates to the first e-book, a new one, and also general improvements to the audio quality of the original course in the works, but perfectionism has lead to not finishing any of the above.
  • I’ve been writing less, especially for this blog. It’s been harder than usual to sit down and edit my rough drafts as I’ve been challenging myself to compact and sharpen the prose. It’s working, but there is always a lot of mental resistance during the process.
  • Less connection to the internet has lead to being worse about staying in touch with family and friends and keeping up-to-date with what’s going on.

Goals & Set-paths

The Quest that I set myself back last November drove me and provided the external kick to keep myself on the path I had set myself. It worked to get myself back onto a plane to Europe with the plan still in mind. The problem? Before I even took off I recognized that this ambitious plan I had made for myself no longer served me. I felt constricted by it, rather than driven and liberated. I was asking myself questions like “Why only Europe?” and “Why stick to just cities?” In the course of examining the quest and my motivations I realized the Quest, as I had constructed it, was more about external validation of my desires/ambitions rather than something I truly wanted.

Despite the above the quest did a few seeds of true desires at its core: desires to learn more and explore the world. I have much to learn and am by no means a master. At its heart then the quest is a means to consciously push myself to seek out experiences and masters to both broaden and deepen my understanding of movement and life. I believe that this is best achieved by with an opportunistic mindset.

Opportunistic Growth

Leo Babauta has had me thinking for a long time about the idea intentional goal-lessness. It’s hard to do, but the ability to wander off-path and find opportunities can lead to amazing experiences. For me the proof is already there, my month at APEX Movement would never have happened if I hadn’t jumped off my planned path. That experience leads me to believe that I cannot predict what will be the ‘best’ for me, in any area of life, but I will know it when I see it. The challenge is to be flexible and ready enough to seize those opportunities when you spot them. With that in mind the “Quest” shall cease to exist as some externally tracked thing. In its place is a simple direction: I will travel and explore the world, learning from masters of various movement arts.

I don’t expect I’ll ever stop.

Looking Forward (Systems and Action)

I’m the type that loves being adaptable, but I’m slowly coming to accept the need for systems. Of the things that didn’t go well in 2013 many of them could have been remedied with clear systems of daily action and creation in place to keep them rolling ever onwards; otherwise the demands of day-to-day living will often intercede.

In keeping with the goal-less theme all I’m focusing on as we move into 2014 is one idea: consistent action. I’ve talked previously about enjoying the process”), and simple systems that help you consistently show up are an important part of the solution. Consistent action is what gets results, not grand plans. So here’s my challenge to you: think less about goals and more about what actions you want to regularly do (bonus: read this article by James Clear). Create a system to consistently act, and follow the system. Keep showing up and the progress you’ll have made will amaze you.

To borrow a phrase from my friend Colin, keep moving.

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