Since My Last Birthday

Every year, I have a tradition that I follow on my birthday and most of the time, I force my friends to follow it too. Or rather, I subscribe them to it. I ask them two questions, very important questions on their birthday, the same ones I ask myself.

  • what have you accomplished since your last birthday?
  • what are you looking forward to accomplishing by your next birthday?

The two questions carry a lot of weight in it. I believe that people let years pass by quickly and get used to the idea that one year is not that different from the next. The problem is, we just get used to change. It's not that things don't change, things do, and probably increasingly more so, we just don't keep it at the forefront of our minds.

So again, what they accomplished. My friends are often positively surprised at how much has happened since their last birthday. And they're of all ages, from the youngest to oldest. It's delightful. I hear them progress and head toward the things they want, or veer off another path.

But then, what do they have to look forward to? My friends often wait a few seconds before answering this one but again, they pour out a slew of things planned or unplanned that will happen. From finding a new job, getting a new place, to learning a new skill, or visiting a country. Even those with limited resources find things they get excited about.

The two questions usually have positive response and I definitely like taking that second within the birthday to think back, meditate on what has happened.

So what about me? What have I done that has impacted my life in the past year?

What I've done

"I'll face myself / To cross out what I've become."

The past 365 days have been pretty amazing and very hectic. Just to write a quick non-philosophical overview:

  • I've switched jobs, going from Lead (read: single) Developer at a marketing company to Applications Developer at a Lead Gen company
  • I got married. Despite professing for years I would never do it, I did it.
  • (a little bit personal), I got denied for adoption due to my residency status, this is after years of working on it. Time to become a citizen, I guess!
  • I've finished a novel
  • I set out to accomplish something every month, and I did: expanded my wardrobe and learned a bit about fashion, learned the basics of 3D modeling, edited my book, wrote a ton of blog posts, story-writing sprint
  • I monetized my blog and started using the revenue to fund my hosting (a better hosting)
  • I gave up on living in the suburbs and moved from a 3 bedroom house into a 1 bedroom apartment in the middle of the city

There's probably a lot more but my "philosophical" section is more important. I've learned how to accomplish goals. It took me this long to get into a "I'll get shit done" mood. I've gone through tons of blog posts, documentation, and books. I did the whole "GTD" to the letter for years, and nothing really worked. What's weird is that last year's NaNoWriMo was the kickstarter for me.

Since then, I've gotten into the habit of planning my month out. In January, I spent my entire month 3D modeling. I hated Blender for the longest time, always opting out to use a student version of 3DS Max or using Cinema 4D. Those programs I could understand, but Blender? No way in hell. But I stuck with it, by the end of the second week, I got used to it, by the end of the month, I made some stuff I was proud of.

The months continued this way. March was my short-story month. I was never really that great at short stories. Novel-writing and poetry, yeah, prose? Not so much. I wrote some of my best work that month.

I took time to enjoy the things I love. I finally bought a Nintendo 3DS last year, my first handheld since my PSP and my first Nintendo product since the GBA. I bought Pokemon for it. For those that don't know, I've always been a huge game, just never got around to playing the "new" games ("new", meaning anything that came out after '03). Since then I got two more games. And I love it.

I've started working on personal projects, reading much more, and keeping tabs on what I do rather than let my time go to waste. And I went on a vacation to Costa Rica.

I've gone through some tough times as well and survived, I'm a better person for it. A few people I knew died this year. More than any year before that. It took me hard because two of those deaths happened weeks in between. One of them was a friend that I haven't spoken to in several years. There were other issues that I don't want to get into but it made me strongly reflect on my life and who I want to be in my life.

As I've mentioned, I got married. It was pretty fantastic and I'm pretty happy about it.

So all in all, it's been a monumental year. Even now just writing about it makes me realize how far I've come. I could write pages and pages but I think I'll leave everything to this overview.

Where I'm going

While I know that plans usually fall through, get adjusted, or new things pop up unexpectedly, I always found it prudent to have some goals, however vague they maybe.

So last year has been this turmoil of "getting shit done". It's a great way to go when you're just exploring but I'm getting a bit chilled out and want to take my time with things. It even shows in my new goal-making process. Rather than set dead-lines, I line up checkboxes in an evernote note, figure out what I want get done, and set a three month deadline during which I do various things.

I have tons of stuff planned for next year so I wonder what will happen. I'm planning to launch a link sharing site, and a marketplace site and redo a ton of my development work. I also want to publish one of my books and a poetry compilation. So I wonder if any of that will get done ;)

I'm also looking forward to another vacation, hopefully overseas this time.

I think that one of the biggest things in my life that's missing right now is creativity. I used to draw and paint, and sketch out ideas but that's pretty much gone. I spend most of my time programming, but also writing but while writing is creative as hell, it's not visual. And that was something I used to thrive on.

I'm pretty excited to see what happens and come back in a year to read over what I've written.