Stories on the edge of familiarity

2014: Grow (the former half)

Apparently, doing a year-end review is a thing that high achievers do. I don’t know if I’d be considered a high achiever, per se, but I’ve done a year-end review for the past two years, so… *waits for magic fairy dust*

But, seriously, doing a review is super helpful for getting an accurate view of yourself, your life, and how your actions and decisions create that life of yours. Once you have that knowledge, you can better prepare yourself for the future. You learn how to become more of who you want to become, and how to live more of what you want to live, by looking honestly at what you’ve done, what worked, what didn’t work, and what you want to work towards.

Like I said, I dunno if I’d be considered a high achiever. But this review thing is awesome, so I’m posting mine as a sort of resource that you can use as you do your own. Like. I don’t know. You can use the same template as me or something. Whatever. This is what works for me. Take what you like and toss the rest. :)

The Lists (That Which We Call Raw Data)

In last year’s review, I made six goals.

  1. Do the paperback of The Illuminated Heart
  2. Start a webcomic
  3. Edit and publish Hidden in Sealskin
  4. Start working on a video game
  5. Develop work ethic for the purpose of better communication and preparedness
  6. Learn how to build and maintain relationships

Out of those goals, these are the concrete things I’ve accomplished:

  1. The Illuminated Heart paperback :D
  2. Kara the Brave (my first webcomic!)
  3. Figured out the theme of Hidden in Sealskin (aka, now I’m finally ready to edit the darn thing :P)
  4. Star Light, Star Bright (a computer game made for a university class)
  5. Handing in all of my assignments early (except for group ones, as that relied on more than me)

Here are the not-so-concrete things I accomplished:

  1. Learned how to apologize effectively (still working on putting that into practise consistently)
  2. Did a lot of thinking about relationships and came to some personal conclusions
  3. Learned a lot about myself, how I relate to people, and how I could better relate with them
  4. Started taking more initiative with relationships
  5. Became more comfortable with healthy boundaries and with setting them
  6. Learned how to love myself

And, because I’m apparently on a roll with these lists, here’s one more listing the things I didn’t accomplish that I wanted to:

  1. Editing and publishing Hidden in Sealskin
  2. Becoming a super prepared all-star who can communicate things on the spot
  3. Discovering the super-special secrets to building and maintaining relationships

So, my question is: What can I learn from all this data?

Ponderings (Wherein One Processes the Raw Data)

First, I want to look at those three things I didn’t accomplish.

1.

In the case of editing and publishing Hidden in Sealskin, the block was in the area of editing. While there is technically nothing getting in the way of me publishing without editing (seeing as I self-publish), that would be a Bad Idea. Trust me, the first draft of this book is not yet at publishable quality.

So, what took me so long with the editing? Partly, fear. Editing is not a thing I like, and not a skill I have cultivated particularly well. I prefer doing everything right the first time. Or near enough to right that the edits are minor. As a result, my fear of not doing well with editing has caused me to procrastinate. This fear was something I have been aware of for pretty much the whole year, though, and I decided not to push myself through it, but rather to be gentle with myself and give myself the space to work out what I needed to work out.

As it turns out, that was exactly what I needed. Once I took away the pressure to perform, I was able to work through what was really bothering me, and I was able to allow myself to act when I was truly ready, not right when I thought I should be ready. This allowed me to discover that the main thing getting in the way of editing was that I didn’t really know the theme of the book or how to end it properly. Last month, I discovered the answer to both of those questions, which means that I am now ready to edit Hidden.

2.

While I could potentially still become a super-prepared person, I discovered that, rather than being able to anticipate everything that could happen, I rather like taking what I have and making space for the unknown and the emergency. So, with the fact that I completed and handed in all my assignments this past semester early (by pretending they were due one or two days before what the syllabus said), I then had space to breathe, space either to rest, or to deal with sudden urgent things. Being on top of things in that small way took away about 80% of the stress I usually experience during the school year. And that kind of preparedness? I like. Very much.

As for communicating on the spot… I’ve learned that that’s just not a thing I do well. My strength lies in observing, pondering, parsing, and then speaking. If something affects me deeply, I shut up. If something strikes me as important, I wait to speak. This is just how I work. Yeah, it’s not great in a fast-paced environment that requires snap decisions, but that’s not an environment I’ll be living in. While I definitely want to come up with strategies to deal with the occasional fast-paced event, I’m not going to change myself just to be able to survive in an environment I don’t even like.

3.

There is no secret sauce for relationships that takes some kind of epic quest to find, or the achievement of some kind of enlightenment to know. The principles work like this:

  • Learn to love yourself such that you wouldn’t want to change anything about you in order to live with yourself, and let that kind of love flow out to others.
  • Be deliberate about who you want in your life and how often. This requires being honest about what is best for you, so that you can be your best for others.
  • Be polite. Be kind. Your attention to the little things is a testimony to the attention you pay to the big things.
  • Believe that it is possible to both give and receive, to serve others and be served by others, for everyone to win. And accept nothing less in your relationships.
  • All of these points will require that you set boundaries with yourself and others. Remember that boundaries are not meant to curtail growth, but to make growth possible. Boundaries remove the parasites (thoughts, words, ideas, behaviours, and sometimes even people) that would keep us from growing in a healthy manner, and guide us on a straight path.

In other words, for all these three things, I didn’t fail so much as I succeeded in a way I wasn’t expecting. And, in all three cases, that success was much better for me than the success I originally thought I wanted.

In Anticipation of the Second Half

Ok, wow, that went longer than I thought it would. :P As a result, this review and setting-of-goals will be in two posts. The next post concludes my processing, describes my jumping-off point for the new year, and sets new goals for the next 365 days. :) See you tomorrow with all that (good thing I started early with this! :) ).

In the mean time, what areas of this were helpful for you? If you blog, and you have a year-end review going up, share a link in the comments and let’s have a conversation about the awesomeness of 2014. :D

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