A review of my progress in 2011

I spent a few hours yesterday going through what I achieved in 2011 and also thinking about areas of focus and goals for 2012.

It’s a good process to go through, as it can be easy to just keep ploughing on and never consciously acknowledge your progress and achievements – it just feels good and useful. It’s also very useful to look at what didn’t go so well and understand why.

This blog post is focused on 2011, I’ll write another one on my focuses for 2012 in the next day or so.

2011 – what went well?

House – Ella and I moved into our first house in Dec, 2010 and we’ve made a lot of progress in making it a nice home. The biggest change was we turned the garden from an overgrown mess to something that looks really nice (with a ton of help from Franco). Everything got stripped back, paving and a lawn was laid, wooden sleepers laid down each side, we built a bin shed and installed power and lighting throughout and in the shed. We also bought a nice bench and planted lots of herbs/plants in pots. We did a lot in the house too – things like mirrors, shelves, rugs, furniture etc.

Garden Bench & Herb Pots!

Read lots – I managed to read a LOT in 2011, mainly since I sold my car and started getting the bus to work aswell as making more time for reading in the mornings and evenings. A kindle makes things super easy too. I’d say I probably have read 10 books in the last 6 months, which is more than I read in 2009 and 2010 combined! My favourite was the Steve Jobs autobiography; I just couldn’t put it down. I also used Google Reader to keep up with the blogs I follow. Reading is important to me, as I believe it’s an essential part of continual learning and overall just a relaxing activity ☺

Here are a few of the books I enjoyed the most and found particularly useful:

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson
Lying by Sam Harris
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan by Alan Patridge
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
The Art of War for Executives: Sun Tzu’s Classic Text Interpreted for Today’s Business Reader by Donald G Krause
How to behave and why by Monroe Leaf
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think and It’s Not Too Late: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late by Michael Ellsberg
Focus by Leo Babauta

And here are some of the top blogs I enjoy:

Zen Habits
The Nate Green Experience
The Minimalists
Only Once
Both Sides of the Table
Seth Godin
Venture Beat: Games
Games Industry.biz

Embraced Minimalism – This was probably the most significant change for me in 2011 as it had a big impact on my life. I stumbled across Zen Habits around the middle of the year, which prompted me to read much more on minamilism throughout the year. In the last 6 months I’ve got rid of a lot of things that I never used and tended to just hang onto for the sake of it – clothes, kitchen appliances, gadgets, even my car! Before I embraced minimalism I never seemed to be able to keep the house tidy, whereas now most surfaces are always clear, tidy and uncluttered. Having less stuff feels so good. As I got further into minimalism I also started to think differently about goal setting too (more on this below and on my next blog post).

Minimalism = a nice clean work space!

Living Below My Means – I’ve managed to invest in areas like our house this year aswell as save significantly, largely down to living below my means. Selling my car (M3’s = fun + money drain!) and embracing minimalism definitely helped. In general, I’ve just had a more cautious approach to spending and where I did spend, I did so in areas that make a bigger difference to my life. I can still do much better in this area and will do in 2012 – watch this space.

Rising and Going to Bed Early – I know this sounds a bit of an odd achievement but for large parts of 2011 I have managed to get myself into the habit of rising early (around 5am – Ella calls I the middle of the night! ☺) and going to bed early (before 10pm). Often I would get into the office for 6am. It’s amazing how much more personally effective and self-motivated I am when I do this. I lost my way a little towards the end of the year, but will nail it again first thing in 2012.

Goals vs. Developing Habits – Not really an achievement, more a significant realisation. I have always been an avid goal setter and a bit of a perfectionist. I tend to have expectations of myself that are far too high to achieve and as a result I find I am constantly beating myself up. This is good in a way as I have no doubt I achieve more being like this, but constantly beating yourself up and feeling inadequate isn’t a great feeling to have. Developing habits and taking incremental smaller steps came into my reading a lot this year and it’s getting me to think about how I achieve things in a different way.

VP & COO – I returned to Jagex this year as VP of RuneScape, which whilst it was probably on par with my previous levels of responsibility, was a new challenge for me. Jagex had new shareholders; a new board and we had some lofty goals for RuneScape. Around the middle of the year I was promoted to COO which is definitely a big step in my career and importantly one I felt ready for. As with any job there have been ups and downs this year, but in summary I am very glad I returned to Jagex and I’m incredibly focused on making a serious impact and progress in 2012.

2011 – what didn’t go so well?

Health & Fitness – I exercised rarely, slipped back to bad eating habits and put on about a stone and a half. Wow, it hurts to write that. I basically just failed to manage this along with the other priorities in my life. Not good at all and something I will absolutely address immediately. The good news is I am very knowledgeable on being healthy and fit and have done it before, I just need to get back into the habit and be consistent with my eating and exercising.

Me – I’ve allowed myself to become stressed and overwhelmed at times this year and it translated into me becoming impatient, snappy and probably just not a nice guy to be around at times. What’s worse is I know when it is happening and often just allow it to, rather than take control of it. Again, something I will be focusing on in 2012.

Relationships – I’ve neglected some key relationships this year. I got stuck straight into work at the beginning of the year and allowed it to consume my life – often at the expense of Ella, my family and my friends. It was common for me to miss a call or receive a text and not reply back. I still intend to make work one of the highest priorities in my life next year, but I will be ensuring a balance and will focus in on the relationships that are important to me.

Confidence & Self Doubt – At times this year, my confidence has taken a knock and self-doubt has come knocking. I think this is natural for most people and there’s probably not much to say here other than I need to be conscious of it next year and push it aside when it occurs. I know that when I am focused, determined and positive I can achieve whatever I want and just need to always remember that.

Goal setting and planning – I lost my way several times this year. Part of it was me figuring out what was working and what wasn’t working with my goal setting process and I tried a few things which didn’t work for me. I feel I have a good understanding of what will work the best for me now, which I will take into 2012.

Passion and Contribution – Outside of work, I lack something I am really passionate about. I need to find that in 2012. Also I certainly haven’t contributed to things outside of my own life and I really want to. I just need to figure out what and why and am determined to do that in 2012.

Wrap Up

All in all, I feel 2011 was a decent year. I made some serious progress in many areas that I set out to achieve and made a few really important realisations. However, I seriously neglected health and relationships and struggled to find the right balance between them and my career/personal growth – something for serious consideration in 2012.

I’m nearly done with my focuses for 2012, expect another post in a few days!

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