Last Year Counted: 2014 In Review

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“I have a simple rule: whenever it comes to a birthday or a December 31st just ensure that the last year counted.” Dave Cornthwaite.

Today, in a way marks both anniversaries. While it’s a month into the new year as I write this, most of the thinking behind it was done around the end of December. Tomorrow is also my 25th birthday. When I was looking back on 2014 I stumbled across Dave’s quote and it resonated with me. Dave is an adventurer who’s on a crazy quest to do 25 thousand-mile journeys using different forms of non-motorised transport. He’s built the life he wants for himself and it’s massively inspiring.

Last year was the best year of my life. Was it perfect? No, and I failed on many of the things I set out to do, but where I succeeded I fucking succeeded.

At the start of last year, I reflected on 2013 and set myself goals in a few areas for 2014: fitness, knowledge, finance, and adventure. I also set myself monthly challenges. So let’s take them one by one.

Fitness

Fitness was a totally mixed bag. The first half of the year was fantastic. The second half, however, was awful. Once I returned from sailing (more on that in a minute) I failed to get back into the swing of things. Injury, illness, work, personal stuff and anything else that could get in the way, did. My gym moved from 15 minutes from my house to 45.

There were some interesting highlights. While my BJJ suffered, I took up Olympic Weightlifting and after 4 weeks training, entered a competition which was a blast. I also got to train in Marcello Garcia’s in New York and another gym in Copenhagen.

Knowledge

At the start of the year I set out to read 52 books; I read 67. Unfortunately I didn’t read all the books I originally planned to. I’m going to tackle this particular subject in another blog post.

Photography ended up taking up a lot of my learning focus. I’m now significantly more competent with Photoshop than before and have completely outgrown my current camera. An upgrade is on the horizon.

I didn’t, however, dedicate any real time to design or coding. I’m not sure I’ll get to them in much depth this year either.

Finance

Financially things blew up. I had 52 tutorials published on the Tuts+ network and also produced a course on Setting Up Your Mac For Photo and Video Editing that should be out in the next month or two.

As well as writing for Tuts+, I branched out to other sites. The major one was MakeUseOf who I wrote about 25 articles for in the three months of the year.

I also wrote for a couple of new sites where the articles haven’t been published yet.

It was an odd twist. The projects I thought would pay off in 2014 didn’t and the ones I hadn’t thought much about have turned into a serious source of revenue.

Adventure

Adventure was another area where things went way better than expected. I’d originally not planned to do too much travelling. Instead I ended up sailing between Denmark and Spain, stopping at Germany, Belgium and France along the way. I also spent some time in England, elsewhere in Ireland and. for New Year went to Puerto Rico with a two day stop over in New York on the way home.

Monthly Challenges

Every month I set myself a challenge. Generally it was to a specific thing every day or X times a week, though sometimes it was broader. These challenges were a great success. Some of them I failed to reach but still got lots done anyway. The goals were:

  • January: Stretch every day
  • February: 30 mins resting squat every day
  • March: Hill sprints every day
  • April: 7 hours sleep a night
  • May: Meditate every day
  • June: 8 gym sessions a week
  • July: 8 books
  • August: Cook 3 new things a week
  • September: Write for new sites
  • October: Do things
  • November: Write 1000 words per day
  • December: Meditate every day (again)

The hardest one far and away was trying to meditate. It’s something I really want to do but struggle to have the patience to. I’ll have to tackle it again next year.

So that’s my year. It counted. In the next post I’ll look at what I’m going to be doing in 2015.