This has been a great year for reading, a good year for travel, decent year for working, a fine year for baking, and a poor year for pushing myself. In the hopes of expanding upon those simple reflections, I’m taking a page out of Chris Guillebeau’s playbook and thinking back on 2014 with these two questions in mind:
What went well this year?
What did not go so well this year?
What Went Well in 2014
I worked for three production companies in three different capacities. I’ll have been to Europe twice, as well as up and down both coasts. There were plenty of highlights from 2014. This list of 10 things includes some personal accomplishments, some professional ones, and some general thoughts about the year that leave me feeling positive and rewarded. In no particular order:
- Time with family – This is the first year in quite a few that I’ve spent extended time with my family outside of the holidays. There were several weddings, a weeklong Thanksgiving in Boulder, and a spontaneous Texas excursion with my sister-in-law. I told myself in the midst of the rocky employment situations earlier in the year that I would take advantage of any and all time off to do the things I ordinarily can’t, and I’m pleased that I followed through on that desire.
- Travel – I was able to go on great road trips (through Utah and the Southwest), fly to great states (Oregon, Washington, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Arizona, to name a few) and travel to Europe twice (the UK and France to start, Denmark and the Netherlands coming up). Though the traveling I had planned at the beginning of the year was more far-flung than this, it was refreshing to be able to explore so many modern cities.
- Reading – Daily reading has been the foundation of my year. In making it a more conscious practice, I’ve ended up reading significantly more than I did last year, tackling more ambitious books, and discovering new interests. I’m using that all as a springboard to launch a new project. See next.
- Connect A Book – Though this project officially launches in a month or so, I am pleased with the initiative I’ve taken so far in committing my time and resources to making it come to fruition. The process is informing a good deal of my reading selections and my self-directed learning, as well as giving a structure to a period of time that had been getting hazy from lack of work (or work as I would have previously defined it).
- Running – I set personal bests in the 10k (39:09) and marathon (3:26:48). That the marathon took place in Tucson, and in consecutive years (I did the Los Angeles marathon last year), makes me confident that I can move forward with a plan to combine stateside travel and running into one exploratory hobby.
- TV Producing – In contrast to last year when I worked as an Associate Producer on three consecutive shows, I worked as a producer (segment + coordinating) for two shows this year. In those positions, I was given more control over creating segments, editing show content, and implementing ideas. It was gratifying to be given autonomy and I hope to have more opportunities in 2015. The year ended with a longer hiatus than I’ve had before, which does leave me uncertain about what comes next in terms of the “TV career”.
- Investing – I contributed monthly to a Roth IRA, and began a few other investments, including Lending Club. Ultimately I’m happiest with a presently occurring mental shift that has me thinking less in terms of investing money for the future and more in terms of investing money in projects now, and in me now. They are not mutually exclusive, but the latter is more tangible, more actionable, and, for now, more necessary.
- Friends – The longer spans of time off allowed for a weeklong road trip through Utah with a good friend, mid-week Channel Islands camping with my girlfriend, and generally more socializing, which I shy away from when I work.
- Awareness of the world – Aided no doubt by John Oliver’s new show, my time working on a late night news program, and a subscription to The Economist, I am keeping abreast with world news and developments. This wasn’t something I set out to do, but upon reflection, it is a good quality to develop.
- Mindfulness – Being more aware of my self and my interests has allowed me to navigate professional situations that were unhealthy, and avoid ones that would have been disastrous. It has helped me to maintain an even-keeled and healthy attitude, while also keeping me from being too short-sighted and overwhelmed with frustration. This was more a side effect of several books I read and a renewed interest in running, so I aim to make this more intentional in the year and years to come.
What Did Not Go Well in 2014
As a counterpoint to those things that went well, I had a number of difficulties, failed endeavors, trying time off, and personal frustrations. They are:
- Creative writing – I abandoned Ordinary Poems, the latest incarnation of a creative writing project, after a dozen new entries. I didn’t blog regularly. I didn’t do freelance writing. I didn’t work on TV scripts or film scripts or short stories. In terms of a disparity between how I think of myself and what my actions show, there are none larger in my life. Absolutely must change.
- Passion for work – This year in the television industry was particularly disillusioning in terms of shows being mismanaged, projects floundering without direction, and rudderless coworkers. I turned down a fourth job in hopes of spending time on a project of my own, as well as taking a step back to reassess what parts of the industry I like, and what I am willing to put up with upon my return.
- Music listening – This tanked, due to a lack of commute time and a newfound interest in audiobooks that cannibalized any headphone time I did have.
- Overall fitness – My focus the latter half of the year shifted toward biking and running and my overall level of fitness (upper body and core strength) declined. Though I plan on continuing to do long distances runs, I don’t want success in that to come at the expense of a modicum of strength.
- Volunteering – My time at 826LA became more specialized, as I chose to work solely on Personal Statement-related trips in place of the buffet of volunteering I’ve devoured in years past. I did enjoy the time I spent this year, but I want to return to supporting the organization as a whole.
- Expanding my sphere – Through the first half of the year I was content with television being my arena, so I didn’t put energy into meeting people in different communities, with different hobbies, in different walks of life. The result of that, mixed with my own professional uncertainty, is regret for not mixing it up more. I’ve already started working on this, and expect next year will bring new groups and new people into the swing of things on a regular basis.
- Getting out of my comfort zone – Similar to the above, though more of a personal regret and less of a social one. The travel I did went smoothly, the work felt manageable, and I don’t feel like I grew as much as I could have. I’ve put some plans in place to make next year different.
- Regular baking – Sure, I made a decent number of pies. I made some tarts. And cookies. That being said, I made no scones. I made no bread. It’s time to rethink the baking title if I don’t start doing some real baking.
- Identity beyond work – This is where I struggled the most this year. What do I write in that Twitter profile? In my website’s About section? At parties? To my extended family at Thanksgiving?
- Setting goals and implementing systems – I’ve experimented with a number of daily systems (based around running, reading, scheduling), and it’s helped focus some of my thoughts. That said, I haven’t done more than this for experimenting’s sake.
When I started this year, I was in the middle of a road trip from New Orleans to Los Angeles. I was heading back to a job where I’d been recently promoted that had benefits and the security of it all was a novelty to me. It seemed like it was going to be a steady year that would have planned vacation days and PTO and consistent work and that I’d be able to fit in some time for self-development around all that and what a year it was going to be.
Then the whole staff got let go. And I found a few other jobs, and then did some traveling, and chose not to do a job, and did some reading and building. I found myself reacting to situations rather than creating opportunities.
This coming year will be something else entirely.