Every year from November 1st to the 15th I look back on the year I am in and plan for the year ahead. My reason for the November 15th deadline is it frees me up to focus on friends and family during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. In the future I will blog this live, but since it is too late for that I will let you in on my process now!
To start off, I got this idea from a combination of Dan Miller’s “No More Mondays” and Chris Guillebeau’s “The Art of Non-Conformity”. I will write more about them later, but until then you can click on their names to go directly to two short books that changed my life.
What does it mean to look back?
Be honest, 2010 did not turn out how you expected. When the year began you had hopes, dreams, and ideas that were dashed across the rocks of reality (probably by Valentine’s Day). But even amidst such failure, you found yourself accomplishing wonderful things you never expected. This is what looking back is for. First I look back at the things I achieved over the year. Some of these may seem small, but every victory is worth taking note of.
Looking back I accomplished a lot in 2010:
- I graduated from college with honors (cum laude).
- I started a serious relationship that turned into a proposal!
- I paid off my last debt (a car loan) and began to live debt free.
- I stopped wearing a watch.
- I learned the wonders of fruits and vegetables and cut back on my portion sizes
- My fiancée and I planned a large portion of our wedding (though there is still a lot to do).
- I built this blog from an idea to what you see today (there is a lot to do there as well).
- I got my first salaried position and make more money than I ever have in my life.
- I started a Bible study with a close friend of mine and stuck with it through the end of the year.
Looking back I accomplished a lot. Graduating college, paying off debt, proposing, and starting a small business are all great accomplishments by anyone’s standards. It is okay to look back on these and congratulate myself. None of it was easy. But among these successes were some glaring failures that I cannot ignore.
Looking Back I failed more often then I hoped:
- I did not spend much time with my friends and family throughout the year.
- I forgot some important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) until the very last minute which hurt my relationships and my budget.
- I delayed starting the blog because of fear.
- I did not return to working out after I got sick in December.
- I almost stopped doing the Bible Study because I did not want to deal with other areas of my life.
- Although my job pays well, I do not enjoy it and I consider this dread I feel every morning a failure.
Those are some big failures. Bigger then I would like to admit. Looking back over the year is difficult for a lot of reasons but the main one is all the failures. Seeing my successes makes me happy. I did more then I realized. You could write a book about some of those accomplishments (albeit not a good one). Yet, thinking about the opportunities to spend with family that I missed and the opportunities to experience life with friends that I said no too is a hard thing to look back on. I almost gave up a Bible Study I love and some close friendships so that I could become more introverted and focus on things that do not matter. That is probably the biggest failure of all.
Although only 700 words or so, this took me more than a week to figure out. I had not kept a very good record of the things I did in 2010 and I did not want to spend time meditating on what I had done. Thinking about success makes me happy, but it also reminds me that I have to do new even better things. And thinking about failures is just hard in general. When I do figure out what I did wrong I meditate on it for several days. This is great because it gives me a firm foundation to stand on as I figure out my new goals for 2011.
What were your top 3 successes in 2010? What were your worst failures? Let me know in the comments.