Looking back on 2013

Usually on the blog, today would be the day I put up a collection of the favorite photos I took during the year, but since I have an actual photography page this year, I decided to just post that over there. Go check it out if you want to see my year in pictures. ;-)

As I was putting that together, a couple of thoughts occurred to me about the year 2013.

  • First and foremost was all of the traveling! To go from someone who has only ever traveled overseas once in my whole life, to spending significant time in 5 different European countries in one year alone, is quite a change, and a fun one at that! I hope to continue that trend, though obviously we don’t have a 10 day cruise planned this year, so we’ll have to see where my work sends me this year!
  • Speaking of work, it’s been a challenging year. I’m now teaching two different, though related, products instead of just one, and the second product is marketed toward a very different type of business. No longer am I going in to law firms exclusively to do training, now I’m increasingly teaching corporate IT and Legal departments. That has forced me to spend a lot of time learning about new workflows and ways of using our software. While that’s been necessary, it’s also been somewhat detrimental to me personally. That’s a lot of mental energy being spent in one place, and I don’t feel like 2013 was a very balanced year for me. More on that later.
  • We also suffered some loss this year. Both my wife and I lost a very dear grandparent this year. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit and spend some time with them before their passing, and to spend some time with our extended families mourning our loss and celebrating their lives. That, combined with turning 45 this year, has me highly motivated to make the most of 2014 and change the balance noted in the previous bullet point.
  • On the flip side of that though, and just to prove that life goes on regardless, there were also marriages, engagements, and children being born among our family and friends too. It goes to show that while we are busy living our lives and dealing with our day to day problems, the world around us is always changing.
  • Blog wise, this was the year I broke out the photography part of my hobbies into a new blog and started up a blog just to be a sports fan. Frankly, I didn’t necessarily do that just to appeal to different audiences. I also wanted to be able to learn a bit more about what it’s like to start a blog from scratch in 2013-14. I’ve had two sites since 2001, they both are pretty well established, and both are seeing a change in how people interact with them, but because of the age, using them as data points to analyze the entire blogosphere might be a bit misleading. Starting new blogs gives me additional data points. It’s been somewhat enlightening so far.

That last point also dovetails nicely into what I want 2014 to be. Looking back on 2013, I feel like all that new stuff at work, and the unfamiliarity of it, led me to be a bit hesitant. By that I mean, I feel like I spent a lot of 2013 wanting to learn new things and expand my horizons, and planning to do exactly that, but not enough time actually doing it. In some cases, that’s what is needed, we spent a year planning for our long vacation before we actually got to finally go, and that was a necessary part of taking that kind of trip. That was great. On the other hand, I spent an awful of time reading about how to learn a foreign language and finding apps that might help, but very little actually learning it. (In fact, while it was a goal to learn a bit of Italian, Spanish and French to help with getting around during our trip, I failed to really learn anywhere near as much as I wanted to, but I looked at a lot of apps. Sigh..)

The same thing went for finding workouts I could do while traveling, reading books, or any number of ideas I had to learn new skills. It seems like all the learning was done in one area of my life, and I used that as an excuse to be a little mentally lazy in other areas.

So, for me, 2014 is going to be more of a year of doing. I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions or anything like that, but taking a page from my own training classes. I spend a lot of time talking about trail and error in class. About how something like searching is not about studying to figure out the best way to approach a set of data before ever looking at it, but getting in there and running searches and tweaking them as you go along. So, I’m just going to be digging in and trying out some new things.

I’ve already purchased a guitar online (It should arrive early next week), so that I can spend some time learning to play and learning more about how music is made, etc. I have no illusion that I will ever play in a band, even for fun, but I have always wanted to learn to play, so I’m going to jump in and start. I am working out a schedule right now where I can make sure and carve out time to practice each day that I am home, as well as carving out time for exercise and time with my wife, and spending less time in unplanned activities, which seem to always end up with me browsing Facebook or Twitter looking for new plans!

I’ve also added a Chrome extension called Flewent, which translates a certain percentage of the words on any web page into the language you want to learn. So now, if I am looking at Facebook, and sucking up a lot of time, I can also be brushing up my Spanish.

So that’s a start. I’m hopeful that the momentum of actually doing these new things will carry over into other areas as well, but rest assured I will be reminding myself more often this year that there is no perfect plan, and starting with something is better than nothing!

I hope your 2014 finds you taking advantage of the opportunities to get out and do as often as possible!

Happy New Year!

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