As I write this, there are 37 hours left in 2015. It’s amazing how quickly the calendar year has flown by. It seems as if each year passes faster than the last. At the end of each calendar year, I like to look back and see where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Thankfully, this is a really easy thing to do because I journal every day.
This Friday (January 1) I’ll spend the majority of my day reading my journal entries from 2015. But for the purposes of this post, I’ve scanned them to get a sense of my calendar year in review. This will be the last time I do this in a way that only looks at the months from January to December. Going forward, I’ll be reviewing from September 1 to August 31, because that’s how I structure my year now. I mirror it with my kids’ school year, which works best for the cadence of my work and life.
(That doesn’t mean I won’t read my journal every year on January 1. I want to help those of you out who follow the traditional calendar when starting the new year. It’s just that you’ll see me do this twice annually now instead of just once. And that’s not a bad thing at all.)
I’ve decided to share with you three highlights from every month of 2015, that I recorded in my Day One journal. There’s a lot to cover below, but I hope that you’ll see that by keeping a journal you can complete an annual review that isn’t just all-encompassing – it’s something that you can do faster and easier than ever.
- My wife and I rang in the new year in Portland, hanging out with Chase Reeves, Corbett Barr, and others at a house party. Anne has never been to Portland before, so it was great to show her one of my favourite cities in the US. (It may very well be my favourite.)
- We took over our whole home after ten years of having a tenant in the basement. The renovations began in January and ended in March.
- I gave the very first workshop introducing The NOW Year™ Method in my hometown of Victoria and it went very well.
- We moved into the basement and I finally have an office to work in. As a result, I designed my office space to have different zones (Planning, Reading, Working) and have only made minimal changes to those zones since moving into the space.
- My daughter turned 10. At her party, she and her 9 friends threw whipped cream at me, which was fun for them (and me, to be honest). Then we went to Montana’s for dinner and watched a movie (Alexander and the Very Horrible, Etc, Etc, Bad Day).
- I attended the Dad 2.0 Summit in San Francisco and had a great time. I also won passes to LEGOLand California (which we would use in September) and went on a tour of the Lucasfilm Studios. I got to watch an embargoed LEGO Star Wars show and saw The Force Awakens trailer in the private theatre that George Lucas built.
- A massive family trip to Mexico, where I still kept up with my journalling habit and my routines along the way. I managed to read The Alchemist and The Rise while down there for ten days and swam with dolphins. It was a much-needed rest and I’m so grateful we got to spend it with my extended family.
- On March 19th I wrote the following: “I’ve decided to pull back on my Todoist Karma, asking myself to only complete 10 tasks per day. After all, Asana carries more of a workload now.” Asana is now carrying the bulk of Productivityist stuff and Todoist holds everything else. So around this time I committed to using two tools for task and project management.
- I taught The NOW Year™ Method for a class that I’d been doing for some time instead of going through the usual curriculum…and it landed amazingly well with the students. After doing that I decided it was time to develop the method so I could share it with even more people later in the year.
- I had MAJOR writer’s block during the first week of April. So several of my journal entries were one sentence long and expressed my frustration with writing.
- Since the renovations downstairs were complete and each of my children finally had their own bedroom, it was time to make my son’s room look more like his own room. My daughter moved downstairs and Colton inherited the shared room. We decided to paint his room this month. He likes red, so we painted two of the walls bright red. Four coats of paint were needed! It took much longer than anticipated. MUCH longer.
- I bought a ton of board games to nurture the new hobby I’d started. Dixit, Tokaido, Ticket to Ride, and Hanabi were just a small sampling of what showed up that month.
- My daughter’s story was published in a book!
- My family joined Brooks Duncan’s family for a getaway during the May long weekend. It was so great that we decided we’re going to do it again in 2016.
- The Beyond Productivity workshop took place, marking the beginning of me bringing The NOW Year™ Method to a larger audience.
- I joined a book club. While I’ve only been to a couple of the meetings so far, I’m excited to read more intentionally (and outside of my usual space) going forward.
- The kids and I went to see Marvel Universe LIVE. We had a great (albeit expensive) time.
- I took part in the Gumroad Small Product Lab challenge and created The Night Owl Action Plan. It’s been one of my most successful products to date and I’ve decided that helping others have “effective evenings” is a big part of what I want to focus on in 2016. (The Night Owl Platform is actually my Monthly Theme for February.)
- I turned 41. I had a great birthday lunch with Anne at a restaurant in our inner harbour. I received plenty of well-wishes, books, and Green Lantern paraphernalia. I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron with my family in the largest IMAX screen in my province to celebrate. I ate shawarma for the first time. I loved every part of that day.
- I went to my fifth World Domination Summit. I got to hang out with plenty of friends from all over the world. I found Pliny The Elder on tap in Portland. I discovered a love for sour beers (thanks to Nathaniel Boyle for that). I co-hosted a productivity meetup with my friends Zach Sexton and Kendra Wright. I had great chats with Stephen Warley, Mike Pacchione, Jason Glaspey, Tim Grahl, Chris Johnson, and many more. I attended great talks by Jon Acuff, Jeremy Cowart, and Derek Sivers. I also decided to return to Portland in 2016 for my sixth WDS.
- On July 19th, my friend Jeff Sandquist came to town. We’d roomed together at WDS and he stayed here for a few days. On July 20th, we ate at Pig (each ordering their Bacon Explosion sandwich) and then had some great coffee at Bows & Arrows. We also wound up recording a podcast at the end of the night and then watching WWE before calling it a day. Good times.
- I returned to Podcast Movement to kick off this month, and had a great time. Erik Fisher and I co-hosted a meetup with Laura McClellan (who has now become a good friend) before the event kicked off, and had a great turnout. I plan to return to Podcast movement in 2016 if I can make it work because I had a great time – and I’ve never been to Chicago.
- I took my daughter Grace to see her first ever live wrestling event. We sat in the fourth row and had an absolute blast.
- I hired Melissa Steginus to work with me as my Operations Assistant. She’s my first non-virtual assistant and this was a definite milestone.
- Two friends passed away early in the month. Art Charlton and Scott Dinsmore both played important roles in my life and their deaths had an impact on me. Scott was too young to go and Art was so full of life that his passing was shocking as well. I wrote in my journal the following lyrics from Greg Holden’s Hold On Tight: ”Don’t take your life for granted; Why don’t you hold on tight; To what you’ve been handed; Cause you just don’t know how long you will have it.” I’ve been living more with that in mind ever since the passing of my two friends.
- We went on the first big family trip we’ve had without extended family as we traveled to San Diego. I was able to use those LEGOLand passes and we also went to the San Diego Zoo. My kids got to eat In ’n Out Burger for the first time and I went to an awesome event called Webinar Ninja Live hosted by my friends Omar Zenhom and Nicole Baldinu. I hung out with those I’d met and socialized with before (Julia Tunstall and Ryan Rhoten were there and I’d just seen them at Podcast Movement in August) and I met people in person for the first time (Clay Hebert, Jason Zook, Julia Roy). I’d like to see more of San Diego, so I’ll be back – maybe at a future Webinar Ninja Live event!
- As I look back on this month’s entries, I recalled sitting with Srinivas Rao (of Unmistakable Creative) at the Starbucks in The Omni Fort Worth for breakfast. We were just catching up, casually talking about what we do and why we love doing it. We talked about our plans, goals, and aspirations for our ventures. Then I said something off the cuff without even thinking much on it. Srini stopped the conversation and told me to write it down at that very moment. So I did…in my journal. It was the only thing I wrote down for the day. Here’s what I said: “The more time you spend on what you were meant to do, the more time you will find you are surrounded by the people you’re meant to be with.” Now looking back, it seems as if September was a very pivotal month for me. It changed my perspective and how I live my life today.
- I worked with Shawn Blanc to create The Awareness Building Class. Working on this was a big moment for me because it showed me how much value I could create in a short period of time. This got me thinking about what I could create with boundaries that allow for more focused work more often. (You’ll see those thoughts turning into action in the month ahead.)
- I discovered Derek Sivers’ “/now Page Movement” and built my own /now page. I love it and will use it as a place to share what I’m up to with those who ask me to work on stuff with (or for) them as well as hold myself accountable to deeper work over the long haul.
- I altered pricing on Productivityist Coaching and placed limits on the amount of clients I’d work with going forward. I also began mapping out a training program for those who want to come on board as coaches. It’ll be done on an invite-only basis starting in early 2016, but the seeds have been planted and Melissa and I are focusing on it as of January 1. (In fact, The NOW Year™ platform is my Monthly Theme for January.)
- Even though the planning of doing Productivityist Films came about earlier in the year, I really started doing things in earnest on November 12th. I spent the day filming with Breanna and Grady of Gradio Media and I’ll be unveiling what we’ve crafted in the months ahead. I know I want to do more video in 2016, and I’m taking steps to make that happen. (The first Productivityist Films video is up now. You can watch it here.)
- On November 13th, I was up way earlier than I ever want to be…but for good reason. I was on Chris Brogan’s show and had a blast. It was great to chat with Chris again and share with him how grateful I am for his concept of My Three Words. If you want to hear what else we talked about, you can do so here.
- I started reading three(!) books at once at the tail end of the month. Cal Newport’s Deep Work, Steve Kamb’s Level Up Your Life, and Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project. They’re all great in their own way (I’ve finished them all as of this writing), but receiving word about all of these books from the authors at the same time as receiving a royalty check for The Front Nine spurred on a more personal idea: I need to work on another book. (The themes I’ve chosen for January and February of 2016 will make this idea happen.)
- I took part in my first “vertical” beer tasting when my friend Tony invited me and another friend Jeff over to his place to try Driftwood Old Cellar Dwellar from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 bottles. We agreed that the 2012 was too sweet, that the 2014 was too “hot” (boozy but not mild), and that the 2013 was just right. (I’ve got another vertical in the works with Driftwood’s Singularity, but that can’t happen until January next year at the earliest due when its 2015 edition is released.)
- I asked my Patreon supporters to take part in a monthly challenge: to journal every day during the month of December. I could go over the many benefits of journaling, but instead I’ll reiterate that I wouldn’t have been able to do this kind of comprehensive look back at the highlights of my year so quickly and easily without my daily journaling ritual.
- I finally created a product that put elements of The NOW Year™ Method into a book format. Then I built upon that by adding in an audio program and helpful worksheets. The result was an all-encompassing action plan, which I decided to make into a limited release to close out the year.
There were definitely some low periods during the year. I had moments where writing didn’t happen as regularly as I wanted. I fell off the wagon twice when it came to living healthier and developing a more active fitness routine. I made mistakes and chronicled those in my journal just as much as I recorded my moments of success.
Planning Ahead For Success
I’ve learned from these challenges. As a result, I’m setting myself up for more consistent writing in the months ahead. I’ve placed an overarching focus on healthier living this year by making Health one of My 3 Words. I’ve themed two months of the year in a way that will help me develop a fitness regimen that stands the test of time. I’ve created better boundaries to keep myself from repeating those mistakes and I’ll be focusing on doing less things so that I can do them better going forward.
When you record your thoughts, feelings, and actions from the past in a journal, you put yourself in a position to forge a better plan for your future. The bottom line is that keeping a journal can help you stop guessing…and start going.
If you want to spend your year in a way that lets you stop guessing and start going then you’ll want to check out The NOW Year™ Method.