7/10 goals accomplished in one of the toughest and most rewarding years of my career
The Year of the Grind – that’s my title for 2015.
Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I can’t remember another time when I pushed myself harder, piled more on my plate and sustained such a consistently and dangerously close-to-capacity work load than over the past 12 months.
It never let up.
On top of my day-to-day responsibilities as utility social media manager, I was invited to participate and support various aspects of an eye-opening corporate strategy development initiative that had me working on high-profile, complex and far-reaching projects for practically the entire year.
At the same time, the pursuit of an MBA consumed my evenings and weekends with a flood of case studies, books, group assignments, papers, tests, quizzes and challenges that stretched, stressed and strengthened so many aspects of my personal and professional life (or, left me convulsing in a fetal position, mumbling Supply Chain Management principles until falling asleep).
And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I took on a couple extracurricular side projects for good measure, and committed to completing this year’s list of Awesome Bucket Goals.
Even though 2015 was a grind, and as you’ll see a partial failure, it’s good to grind and great to fail.
Thank you to everyone who supported, challenged and guided me through an Awesome 2015.
Here’s one of the many pieces of inspiration I discovered in my work over the past year: an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship In A Republic,” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Awesome Bucket 2015 Results
My one thing: Straight A’s in the ASU W.P. Carey MBA program
I flinched, got a B+ in Supply Chain Management, and died a little inside. At first I grew angry and blamed the professor, the course’s unorthodox grading rubric and a shocking mid-term exam that crippled my goal of notching an A.
However, after calming down, I realized it’s nobody’s fault but mine. I failed to take advantage of an extra-credit opportunity that – theoretically – would have bumped me up to an A-.
I decided my plate was too full take on an additional, optional project. Looking back now, I wish I would have stretched myself even further and completed the extra credit project.
It stinks, but I’m still committed to notching a cumulative 4.0 GPA, which you’ll see on the 2016 Awesome Bucket list.
From this experience, I learned that as hard as you seem to be working,
you will still flinch,
you will still fail,
and you will always need to improve.
- Goal: Write one page by hand every day.
341/365 = 93%
Personal Record: 109 consecutive days writing
Most of these pages were scribbled late at night, just before going to bed, void of lucidity, legibility or any discernible value (other than checking off a box on my “don’t break the chain” calendar). From a broader perspective, this goal has instilled in me a daily writing habit, that I will practice for the rest of my life.
- Goal: Practice at least five minutes of breathing exercises every day.
341/365 = 93%
Personal Record: 109 consecutive days of 10-minute meditation sessions.
I connected this goal with the above writing goal, telling myself that if I could find time to write, I could carve out 10 minutes to meditate (and vice versa). I hit my stride by developing a morning routine that has me meditating right after I wake up, before I even leave my room to make breakfast. While meditation has not drastically changed my life, it has helped me practice mindfulness, manage emotions and handle stress. At the very least, it’s a subtle daily reminder of who’s in charge. As with writing, this behavior is now a personal habit to be continued and expanded.
- Goal: Land a standing backflip.
I didn’t take the time to join a gym or find a spot to safely practice this maneuver. I will have to push this one back to 2016. Hopefully I’ll have more time to spend practicing this move after I graduate next year.
- Goal: Perform three parkour moves.
I’m going easy on myself and counting the training routine (three sets of ten reps of pull-ups, push-ups, leg lifts and squats), two-handed vaults and precision jumps as moves to mark this goal as accomplished. These are pretty basic – as noted in this great Nerd Fitness beginner’s guide – and next year I’ll look to develop more advanced parkour skills.
- Goal: Exercise at least three times a week.
145/52 = 2.79 workouts per week
Low points: two months of only four workouts in that whole month. High points were in the summer after classes got out when I had more free time to exercise. I’m still in decent, running shape, but fitness takes a hit when classes are in session.
Goal: explore three great American cities
- Seattle (Again for Ragnar NWP)
- Portland (Explored this city for the first time. I like it, but prefer Seattle, which is more of a big city. Portland seems more of a town becoming a city.)
- Charlotte (For a conference. Not impressed. Despite massive downtown development, it exudes corporate, bank and tourist, with most locals living on the outskirts or suburbs.)
- Goal: Volunteer with Achilles International.
Due to my class schedule I was only able to guide runners for a handful of group training runs, and I hope to participate more often in the coming years.
- Goal: Complete an orienteering race.
I attended a class and practice “race” with the Greater Phoenix Orienteering Club at the Papago Park orienteering course. It’s pretty basic compass- and map-reading skills, but cool to know, and I’ll look to try and practice these more on hikes or future trail adventures.
- Goal: Solve a rubik’s cube in under five minutes.
Result: Accomplished. New nerd level unlocked!
I studied these tutorials and practiced on and off for a few minutes a day most of the year. I started committing the moves to memory later in the year and officially solved the cube (unassisted) in 3:30 on Dec. 24. I still need assistance in some scenarios, and I’ll keep practicing to get faster, and reduce the frequency in which I need to consult the guide for help.
Photo credit: Maurizio Sorvillo