Landmarks, Happenings of Note 2014
Writing this list, I can hardly believe that all this happened in the past 365 days. I am very grateful, and hope for many more such years.
- First draft of second novel and 8th edit of first novel, launched fiction page, failed to finish first novel
- London Book Fair
- 2nd in UK Catan Championship in May, 4th in Catan @ UK Mind Sports Olympiad
- Got allotment in June, plenty of gardening fun
- Visited Ardley, Cambridge, Dartmoor, Peterborough, Plymouth, Salisbury, Wales
- Built computer with brother for his birthday
- USA in July, Seattle, Portland, Yosemite, San Francisco
- Proposed to Alice atop of Glacier Point in Yosemite
- VegFest Vegan Conference
- World Catan Championship in Berlin, placed 39th overall
- Managed event as volunteer at St Albans Literary Festival
- Saw Ibrahim Maalouf perform at Southbank Center
- Saw Akala perform The Ruins of Empires
- Meditation Classes
- Flotation Tank sessions
- Made fresh pasta, pizza, jam, crumble, strudel etc.
- Veggie August
- Designed ‘Nut Bars’ for reliable organic food source
- Gave up refined sugar
- Advised on first full launch of theme @ EpicPlugins
- Advised SmugPup and helped launch
- Pivoted EverClients, wrote a new vision
- Wrote 10+ WordPress plugins, mostly as Joint Ventures
- Sold nearly 1k copies in 5 days in one JV launch
- Sold several domains, registered far too many more
- Many great meet-ups, meals, evenings spent with friends and family
EverClients – Pivoted to Serve Good-Willed Freelancers
Books, Podcasts, Talks, Videos
In 2014 I read 25+ books and skim-read several others. I’m happy to say that I abandoned several books before I hit their half-way mark, letting crappy books go in preference of better writing. Life’s too short. John Steinbeck, Huxley, Hemingway, and the amazing Frank Herbert lit up my year. Having never read such fiction, I have been blessed by finding as many great works in a single year as I have. I also really enjoyed The Little Prince and Stoner, who both hide life lessons under their respectively different hats.
Through non-fiction I continued to study Stoicism; Meditations by Marcus Aurelius read like an operating system update for my mind, ushered in by the sturdy The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, and wholly reinforced by the sweeping greatness that is Mastery by Robert Greene. I’ve found that a mixture of Stoicism and Buddhism blends well and always seems to wrench me from whatever foul mood or false perception I may get stuck in. I look forward to continuing to explore these, and other philosophies.
In June I secured an allotment, and as a result I mixed in ~10 gardening books and plenty of documentaries on the subject of growing food. Monty Don has proven the most apt teacher, with a focus on organic growing, and plenty of worldly experience (see Zen gardens episode of Around the World in 80 Gardens). The River Cottage Veg Patch book was also very useful.
Lastly, and of significant note, there has been a few extra voices which have really affected me at the close of 2014. George Orwell jumped out of the page at me in Why I Write, slapping me in the face with a satirical, but honest glance at the English persona of 50 years past, instilling in me a strong desire to follow suit, to write more, and to do my share of ripping at the illusionary veil of the herd. Akala added inspiration with his excellent short narrative in The Ruins of Empires, (which was wicked to see performed live). Thoreau recently added even more weight to the desire to finish my novel, though reading Orwell and hearing Akala has given most form to my intent, with their modern unrelenting focus on the truth at the crux of man. The voices of these men, along with Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and such, have deeply impacted me this year, all for the better.
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
- For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
- The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
- Stoner by John Williams
- The Kingkiller Chronicles: The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Slaine: The Horned God by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley (2000AD)
- Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttal
- The Ruins of Empires by Akala
- Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass by Harold Gatty
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Mastery by Robert Greene
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Make Your Mind an Ocean by Lama Yeshe
- Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie
- Tribes by Seth Godin
- What I learned losing a million dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan
- A Biography of Alexander Bell by unknown
- Didn’t read Meet you in hell by Les Standiford (on Carnegie, over dramatized)
- Skim-read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right hook by Gary Vaynerchuk (shallow)
- The Complete Gardener by Monty Don
- Veg Patch by Mark Diacono (River Cottage book)
- Skim-read several other allotment/gardening books
- Grammar for Grownups by Katherine Fry and Rowena Kirton (grammar was useful, examples painfully bleak)
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
- How to market a book by Joanna Penn
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Why I Write by George Orwell
- Started reading “Where I lived, and what I lived for” by Thoreau
- Wrote reviews for all books on Goodreads
Worth Watching/Listening to
I’ve watched plenty of documentaries, interviews and stand-up comedy this year, here’s a few of my favourites:
- Bill Hicks – Revelations (note the black monolith from 2001)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Robert Greene on Joe Rogan Experience
- Jaron Lanier on Future of Technology
- Unlearn your MBA with David Heinemeier Hansson
- John Jantsch at WDS2014 (I was in the audience!)
- How to Change Your Mind – Julia Galef
- Fire in the Booth Cypher 2014
- How School Kills Creativity – Ken Robinson
- Jodorowsky’s Dune
- Ryan Holiday on Tim Ferriss Show
- Kevin Kelly on Tim Ferriss Show
- Fed Up
- Peter Joseph of Zeitgeist Movement on London Real
- Century of Self (4 episode documentary)
- Graham Hancock on Joe Rogan Experience
- Randall Carlson on Joe Rogan Experience
- Noam Chomsky 2014 Interview with Chris Hedges
Stick to the plan?
This time last year I made a plan for 2014, and though I had the best intentions, I’ve not achieved a whole lot of it. But that’s okay; failing is part of the process. Of my 7 goals, I’ve partly achieved 3 and failed at the others. I’ve gladly found a few great people who I’d call mentors as much as friends, had a solid year advising EpicPlugins, and very nearly won the UK Catan Championship (came 2nd, got sent to Berlin World Championships, then placed 39th). It’s been a ride. This year I’ll tackle my year plan a bit differently, opting for fewer firm goals and an overall direction rather than specifics.
In the spirit of introspection, I’ll hammer out some highs and lows below, but overall I am glad for both.
What Worked & Highs
I’ve made less money this year than previous years, but I’m happier. This is a marked change in my outlook which I am happy to note. Culture and the people around me are as important as any economic success, probably more important. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Thoreau is right, and it’s taking a few years to steer my ship true. I end the year in no debt, in little positive balance, but still I am all the more enriched by the words and sentiment I’ve been lucky enough to have absorbed.
Here are a few highlights which make me smile from 2014:
- Love, Friends & Family
- Great books
- Persistent Meditation (160 day chain & classes)
- Yosemite National Park & proposing atop a mountain
- Index cards for organisation (hat tip to Ryan Holiday & Tim Ferriss)
- Giving up refined sugar (watch Fed Up and give up!)
- Successful Joint Ventures
- Networking, saying yes, and meeting awesome people
- Pivoting my company away from money-chasing toward service
What Didn’t Work
For 2015 I’ll be honing my plans, because although this stuff didn’t come together, I see most of them as a failure in planning. Those that I’ve failed at for other reasons are just good learning. I should be so lucky to fail this much in 2015 🙂
Novel not published – It wasn’t ready, but I’ve now done my homework and will attack it again in 2015, watch this space.
Creating a SaaS/WordPress plugins for the money – I could of noticed the hints from my subconscious that I was veering away from my true intent, but I soldiered on trying to force the market to love the product, rather than trying to serve people. Months of work created a good product for a tiny, unaware market. I’ve since pivoted to a new, wholesome vision, and will be building a product for the people in 2015.
Health – Loads of colds, flu’s and hints of my childhood asthma. My immunity is low and my desk-time suffered. After much time wasted at the GP I’ve taken my health thoroughly into my own hands, improving diet and eliminating potential causes. I’ve finally come to a realisation that SBS is likely the main influence, and that my body is particularly reliant on clean air. Thanks to my Withings scales I was able to identify that my modern apartment actually has unhealthy levels of CO2, and that, in fact is a major problem.
Frayed attention – I’ve had this problem for years, but in 2014 it reached fever pitch when I noticed I had over 100 tabs open in Chrome, (I’m thankful for the RAM in this pc). This is just one symptom of a larger failure to organise. Another symptom is my indiscriminate creation of side-projects. I’ve built many, including web-apps to budget my time, but ironically not used or finished them due to a feeling of lack of time. This feeling is without basis, I’ve filled my time very meaningfully, and ought to simply clean up after myself and discriminate more with side-projects.
2014 was a foundational year for me. More than ever I’ve chosen what to spend my time doing, and through discriminative study I’ve been able to dispel much illusion and chaff. I am beginning to see the ways in which I can help others best, while feeding myself, and truth-seeking. I am grateful for all who have shared this with me, and look forward to elaborating on this base in 2015.
I leave you with two formative videos, and some photos. Hope to see you in 2015!