2013 was a big year. Beginning 2014, I imagined it would be difficult to beat it. In some ways that proved true, but in other ways I was surprised.
So here is a look back on the things I regularly keep track of to measure progress.
Obviously not the best improvement for an entire year's worth of work. However, it's not the most complete picture. I was actually crushing my workouts, particularly on the bench press, right up until my move to Singapore where everything took a huge nose dive for various reasons.
I believe if I had stayed in Dubai, both my bench press and deadlift would have finished about 20 pounds heavier. I say this based on my training numbers, which were themselves all about 20 pounds heavier than previous training weights and were moving really well. This area will be a big focus for 2015. Another year of stagnation is not acceptable.
I read 70 books this year, which is obviously a big decrease from the 108 in 2013. The total page count was a little over 15,000, which is actually a relatively bigger decrease than books read compared to the nearly 27,000 pages read in 2013.
The books which had the biggest impact on me this year were:
I see these as breaking down into three categories.
Books 1-4 are essentially books on morals and how we ought to live. I find this topic is the most interesting to me, year in and year out. Most of the other things I do in life are in-line with trying to figure out more about morals and good living. I could read or talk about this topic with anyone for hours.
Books 5-7 are mathematical in nature, but strongly relate to the first four. Much of the abstract mathematical topics in these books provide some of the strongest evidence for reasons against god, superstition, and belief in the supernatural. This is because they teach the tools of rational thinking and clear evidence-based decision making.
Interestingly enough, I have found this year, more than any previous year, that I've noticed many people use the words "analytical", "logical", or "rational" with a contemptuous undertone. They seem to attack these ideas as somehow less human or state them with the implication that people who embody these ideas are less understanding of how other people think and feel. This is absolute garbage and probably a good topic for an entire article of its own.
Books 8-10 are really about the importance of innovation and creativity. This year, I have been trying to figure out where my greatest "value-added" ability lies. Creation and the ability to create consistently seems to be one of the key factors that separates the value of people within society.
2013 was a very slow year of international travel, but okay for travel within the United States. 2014 was the complete opposite. I began in the California, moved to Dubai for three months of work, and then again to Singapore where I am for the next two years at the very least. While in Singapore, I visited Cambodia for a week with the school I'm working for as a field studies trip with tenth graders and then went immediately to Bali in Indonesia for a week long vacation. Lastly, over Thanksgiving weekend, I spent four days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was my favorite new city of this year to visit.
Overall, I traveled to five new countries this year and lived in two of them. Very fun! Very tiring! And very detrimental to dose gym gainz mayne! Travel and life consistency do not a happy marriage make. On the other hand, it does lead to some accelerated learning about life and other people with interesting new food and people.
Basically, my wife and I are in a much better financial position this year. We both have jobs. We are paying down student loan debt. We have some savings (although I'd love for them to be higher). We are on the same schedule and are able to vacation and travel together.
Looking to 2015
I will start the year by reading the same book I've read at the beginning of the last three years. That book is the The Hero Handbook. It is not special and doesn't offer any unique insight about the world. But it is short and contains good reminders of everything I find valuable. I can read it in an hour or so and get myself on track for the new year. It simply serves as a great anchor.
The new year will have a couple old focuses and a couple new ones:
Most importantly, "Win the play."