I’m Nineteen

Today I’m celebrating my 19th birthday. To mark the occasion I spent much of yesterday reviewing the past year and setting out plans and goals for the future. I thought I would interrupt the normal stream of new content to share a bit of that review.

This post is going to be entirely self-indulgent, so if you’re looking for new lifehacking ideas you might want to just skip this post and wait until Monday.

Looking Back

This year has been an exceptional one. I moved away and completed my first year of University. Here are a few of the highlights I’m most proud of:

  • Business. In August of ‘06 I made roughly $40 from this website and writing. Eleven months later I made slightly over $1000.
  • Traffic. In the last 12 months I’ve tripled the amount of traffic this website receives and quadrupled the amount of subscribers.
  • School. My GPA for my first year in University was a 4.2, which sits between an A and an A+.
  • Toastmasters. I completed my Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership awards for Toastmasters, a year after joining Toastmasters. I was also in charge of membership for my club and participated in a couple speaking contests.
  • Social. Harder to quantify, but I had an incredible time last year making hundreds of new friends and meeting many interesting people.
  • Networking. I joined the Positive Blog Network several months ago and it has been a thoroughly positive experience being able to share ideas with other bloggers.

Another honorable mention has been interacting with you. Although I only receive comments and e-mails from a sliver of the readers here, if they are in any way a representative sample, you should be proud. The people I’ve had a chance to talk with and meet who read this blog seem to be highly intelligent and driven. Which makes me feel even more privileged to have the opportunity to write to you.

Bumps in the Road

This year was such a positive one that any negative experiences seem like they should be minor footnotes. But there were a few issues in the last year that taught me a lot:

  • Relationships. I’m not the guy you should ask for dating advice. Most of my highschool years I was too focused to invest a lot of time pursuing relationships. This year had its share of ups and downs. In some ways I didn’t come as far as I would have liked, but I did learn a lot about myself along the way.
  • Drinking. My entire stay in high school was completely sober. This worked great from a productivity/goal-setting perspective, but it also separated me further from my peers. This past year I loosened up some of my restrictions and had a bit more fun. I strove for moderation but part of me sees any drinking at all to be a weak compromise.
  • Isolation. My four months of summer found me moving back home where I didn’t have a large social circle. Although I made friends, it was far quieter than the buzz of residence and University life. At the beginning I couldn’t help but feel it was a step back. Now as my summer draws to a close I see that it became a useful experience, giving me time to order myself before heading back.

Looking Forward

I expect the next year to be just as eventful as this one has been. Some of the major points I would like to focus on for the next year:

  • Focus on business. This website and, to a lesser degree, freelance writing will be my major focuses in the upcoming year. I’m near a threshold where this business could support me through University and I’d like to do what I can to push it past that line. I’d like to earn a reliable $2000 per month by my birthday next year. It won’t be easy, but I believe it is possible.
  • Toastmasters. I’ll be the president of my local club in the upcoming year, which is going to mean a lot more work and responsibility. Aside from getting my club active again I’d like to complete my Advanced Communicator award and win an inter-club speaking contest.
  • Relationships. My goals here are less specific and ambitious. I’ve found going with the flow and focusing on meeting people and having a fun time to be far easier (and more effective) than stressing over dating.
  • Networking. Last year also saw my networking skills go from laughably weak to slightly above average. I’d like to improve upon this again and meet more people both in the blogging community and offline. I’ve found making friends this way to be an incredibly rewarding experience even if the tangible benefits are sometimes harder to see.
  • School. School (as always) will be important but largely on autopilot. I’d like to keep my grade point average on an A for next year although University for me will be more about the connections and education than a letter.
  • Miscellaneous. Last year I took up Latin dancing, although I didn’t pick up as many new activities as I hoped. I’m interested in trying out martial arts, improv comedy or learning a new language as potential side-activities. I’ve since learned that I’m horrible at predicting what I’m going to become passionate about, so I might as well try everything.

Even if the new year will be incredibly busy, I expect it to be fun. Fun is an undervalued aspect of all this productivity and goal-setting craziness. I thoroughly enjoy getting up each morning and finding new ways to improve doing what I love. Knowing that, I’m confident that next year will turn out well regardless of whether I reach my goals.