A recap of my top goals and accomplishments from 2014
Two years ago I decided to get organized, methodical and passionate about my New Year’s resolutions by creating an Awesome Bucket and laying out my goals for the year. That inaugural Awesome Bucket helped make 2013 a wild success by keeping me focused and driven to develop habits, strengthen skills and cross epic finish lines.
And by publishing the list and posting status updates throughout the year, the Awesome Bucket holds me accountable. At the same time, I hope this exercise inspires others to add some Awesome Bucket Sauce to their New Year’s Resolutions. More importantly, I hope this exercise gives you ideas for how to stay motivated and make those dreams realities.
This year, my sophomore Awesome Bucket effort, the goals fell into four categories: Creative, Fitness, Travel and Awesome. In addition, my top priority for the year focused on applying and getting in to grad school at the W.P. Carey School of Business.
I’m happy to report I knocked this bucket out of the park, accomplishing 10 of the 11 goals on the list in another exciting and memorable year. I completed my first semester of grad school (more on that later), fabricated walkability in a city of sprawl, wrote and played guitar every day and hiked to the highest point in Arizona. Plus, I can now do a handstand – nbd – just another drop in the Awesome Bucket.
Here’s a breakdown of my 2014 Awesome Bucket and how I made it happen.
My one thing
Goal: Get accepted to the W.P. Carey School of Business Evening MBA Program at ASU.
Result: Accomplished. This early win fueled the fire to dominate not only the other goals on this Awesome Bucket list, but also the first semester of business school. After just four courses – and four tough, grind-it-out months of balancing school and a full-time job – I am seeing direct benefits and immediate applications both at work and in my personal life. I can already tell that pursuing my MBA is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’ll expand on this experience and the lessons I learned in a future post. For now, just know the first semester was…wait for it…awesome.
Goal: Write every day.
Result: Accomplished (331/365 = 91%. Personal Record: 41 consecutive days writing). I slaved to a “don’t break the chain” calendar and usually squeezed in quick free-writing sessions before I hit the hay. I positioned the calendar on the desk in my bedroom as a way to leverage my obsessive-compulsive nature which forced me to write no matter how tired or lazy I was feeling.
Goal: Post one new article a month
Result: Accomplished (12/12 = 100%). The frequency of my personal blog posts has slowed dramatically compared to the weekly entries that filled up my 2013 Awesome Bucket. This downturn is primarily a result of demands from my first semester back in school. However, one of my biggest professional accomplishments this year was launching, managing and contributing to my employer’s corporate blog. And because the underlying motive for this goal was to get me to write regular, published content, I’m conveniently double dipping and including my four blog posts on SRP Connect! in my Awesome Bucket metrics. With every blog post, I try to provide value to the reader in one way or another, I am quickly learning how that same focus can (and should) be scaled to just about every aspect of business, and life. Here are three of my stories from 2014 that I thought did an especially good job of that (if I do say so myself): Finish line void (Tri for Les), Near-space dreams come true (SRP Connect!) and The real MVP (Fuller Creative).
Goal: Enter a photo contest.
Result: Failed – Noooooo! I’m sure I could have found a contest somewhere, at some point in the past 12 months, but photography projects have taken a back seat to work and school and I simply didn’t make this goal a priority. I’m still passionate about photography, and hope to find sneaky creative ways to get inspired and back into it at some point down the line.
Goal: Improve Olympic lifting technique.
Result: Accomplished. After working out at a Crossfit gym for four months, studying the books Starting Strength and Becoming a Supple Leopard, I have shifted my values to focus more on mobility and flexibility than Olympic lifting. I marked this goal as “Accomplished” because I am a more knowledgeable and stronger weightlifter than I was last year. However, one of my major fitness takeaways this year is that to lift weights optimally and sustainably, you need to establish a solid foundation of mobility and technique first.
Goal: Do a handstand.
Result: Accomplished. It only took five minutes of practice a day for four months. I followed this great beginner’s guide from Nerd Fitness and can now hold an unsupported handstand for a solid 5-10 seconds, usually on my first try. The toughest part was getting over the fear of being upside down with no wall to lean on. After that, it’s pretty fun.
Goal: Hero bro WOD
Result: Accomplished Oorah! (184 days of squats, push ups and burpees) One of the toughest of the year, this goal called for a mini-workout for every day my brother was deployed in Afghanistan. Each day established a new total points goal for the day, and points are acquired by performing any combination of these exercises: Air Squat = 1 Point, Push-Up = 2 Points, Burpee = 3 Points. He was deployed for 184 days and my final workout comprised of 84 squats and 50 push-ups. It may not seem like much, but it was a pretty challenging daily habit to maintain.
Goal: Explore at least three new great American cities.
Result: Accomplished. Ran Philadelphia’s Broadstreet Run (Ten Miler) in 1:18:20, explored new angles in New York and ran the Ragnar Northwest Passage in Seattle, my new favorite city.
Goal: Play guitar every day.
Result: Accomplished (318/365 = 87%). I’m grading on a curve and giving myself the “A” for Accomplishment on this goal – maybe grad school is rubbing off on me. Over the past year I’ve taken at least five minutes almost every day to play a couple songs on the six-string; the “don’t break the chain” calendar was a huge motivator. Recurring songs included Classical Gas by Eric Clapton, Hard Time Killing Floor from O Brother Where Art Thou?, Far from any road by The Handsome Family, Bald Eagle by Prison Fortress, Black Mountain Side (not complete) by Led Zeppelin and Up on the Sun by the Meat Puppets.
Goal: Hike Humphreys Peak.
Result: Accomplished (Summited August 17)
Goal: Complete four home improvement projects.
Result: Accomplished. New flooring, interior paint and ceiling fans helped me rent out my townhouse, move closer to work and fabricate a walkable lifestyle. Moving within a short bike ride of work is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and if you can make this happen, I highly recommend it. You’ll save money, save time, reduce stress, and shake your head at how long you made yourself suffer in traffic.