2014 Year End Review – Laying the Foundation

I don’t know what happened, but this year went by fast. Too fast, to be honest. But sure enough, here we are at the end of the year, and it’s time to reflect on what happened this past year. It’s a great exercise that I recommend everybody do. Doing a year end review helps put things into perspective, let’s you gauge how you did if you set milestones and goals for yourself, and helps you plan how you’d like the following year to go, among other things. So definitely give it a shot.

For me, it was a painful year, but I knew it would be. What I didn’t expect was just how frequent things would bog me down, and I think I didn’t do a very good job of dealing with it all. Early in the year I was working on a cool project in the wedding industry. I had a great partner, the market was receptive, and there was a hole we thought we could fill. But my partner got busy and cold feet, and there was no way I could pull it off by myself. And with heavy heart I had to shelve it. I still think there’s something there, but for various reasons I had to move on. This was pretty tough for me as I was spending so much time on it. If you’ve never had to kill something that you were working on before it got out of the doors, you’ll know how painful this is. Imagine creating your work of art and then setting it on fire before sharing it with the world. Sucks, yo. But this is the life of an entrepreneur/creative. You build things knowing the risks, make tough choices that you don’t want to make, and you hustle on. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. So fuck it. Onwards!

The whole experience taught me so much. For one, I learned how hard it is to find the right partnerships. Even if you’re on the same page on 9 out of 10 things, that 1 thing could break everything. This extends beyond just business and applies to any type of partnership. The gym you train at, the school you go to, the person you’re seeing. If you’ve found a great fit, hold onto it for dear life and enjoy it while it lasts! Another thing this experience helped me with is it sharpened up my programming skills quite a bit. I built some really cool shit that I didn’t think I could build, but I did anyway. These days, I feel like if I had an idea for the next Twitter, I’d be able to hack out a working version in a weekend and build out a prototype in a week. I feel like programming is a super power everybody should learn. There’s just so much you can do for the rest of your life once you’ve had this skill. Design, writing, social skills, and physical strength are some other things I would consider super powers worth learning.

Setting the foundation for success takes time. It’s not something that you can “hack”. You’re not going to run a 4 minute mile without running a 5 minute mile first. I feel like that’s what this year was for me. I’ve painstakingly been laying the foundation down, and things feel steadier now. There are still some areas that I really fucking suck at, though. There was a lot that I could have documented on my entrepreneurial journey this year, for example, that I didn’t bother to do. That’s a damn shame, and I hope that might change. But I have said that in the past before and have never followed through. If there is one thing I’m good at though it is trying again. So we will see. The problem is that I have so much going on right now that it’s a little overwhelming. But sooner rather than later, I really do hope to blog more simply because my writing and communication abilities have gone to shit. Also, I have learned so much this year on conversion rate optimization, growth hacking, user experience, content marketing, bootstrapping and working on side projects that it would be shameful not to share my journey for anybody interested to follow along.

Enough whining. 2014 was a great year in a lot of respects. For starters, I added nearly 40 lbs to my bench press this year! It was my wimpiest lift and now that hole has been covered. I’ve now started to focus my efforts to move my overhead press up. I’ve always felt that if you could squat 2x your bodyweight, deadlift 2.5x bw, bench 1.5x bw, and ohp 1x bw, than you’re not a wimp. And I’m knocking on that door. (Arbitrary numbers and completely subjective, btw, so your opinion might be different.) I also got promoted to blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu this year. I started bjj in 2003, so it has been a long off/on journey. Both my strength gains and new belt both reinforce to me that if you stick with something and/or keep trying, it is an impossibility not to make forward progress. Over and over again, this has been my experience. If there’s one thing I believe in life more than anything it is this simple concept.

For 2015, I fully expect it to be less painful than 2014. It will be an exciting year. Dare I say it will be a monumental year? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Sooner or later, the winds will change. It might be next year, it might be 3 years, it might be never. But as long as I keep learning, keep improving, keep hustling, and keep enjoying the process, then things will be ok. I have great people on my side, and a lot of smart people I’m working with that I am learning a lot from. And right now, I’m working on some awesome stuff with the team at Examine.com, as well as another exciting project that I’ll announce soon. And 2015 will be really exciting for me as a programmer as there is some exciting tech that is starting to mature that I cannot wait to start tinkering with. I feel like there’s an evolution happening and I plan on riding that wave.

Outside of work, I plan on expanding my extra curricular activities a little. I’ve already started doing a little bit of Judo, and I plan on continuing that in 2015. I think I’ll want to get my gun license and join a gun club, too. I’ve also been thinking about archery as it looks so awesome. What can I say, I like doing stuff. Although not a high priority, I wouldn’t mind meeting more people in 2015 either as I find my social circle is dwindling and my friends are turning into boring adults way too quickly for my liking. Eventually I’ll want to make a concerted effort into revitalizing my social circle, but I’m not sure if 2015 will be the year for that. I feel it can still wait as I figure out my next steps.

I also plan on doing some travelling, as I missed out completely in 2014. Travelling is too important to me to neglect for long periods of time, and 1+ year of no travelling was nearing the breaking point. So I have to go. The world is big and I need to see it.

I’m REALLY looking forward to 2015 as I am excited to see what lies ahead. It certainly looks like 2015 will be the year that I decide how I’ll want to spend the next 5+ years of my life, so it is going to be a pivotal year. I hope 2015 brings you happiness and joy and all the hamburgers you could possibly eat. Thanks for reading.

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