Every year I start a recap and never complete/publish it. This is the year I change that and even though this year has been bittersweet, I’m ever so grateful to have made it this far.
My focus in 2015 was to first and foremost be a father, a better husband, and friend. In the years previous, I focused way more time on work and career achievements than my interpersonal relationships.
Looking back, I can’t believe so much has happened. So here we go, my 2015 year in review. For quick reference, I’ve broken them down into the following sections.
- Hello Parenthood
- Habits that Uplift
- Discovering the Power of Creativity
I honestly was scared to become a parent. I mean, really, really scared. In fact, I was so scared at the idea, I convinced myself that I never would want a child of my own.
The first time I saw my daughter, the feeling of overwhelming joy hit me like a brick. I wanted to cry, scream and just run around telling everyone I saw that I was a father. Fortunately for everyone, I did so internally.
A year later, I find myself learning something new every day. Constantly pushing myself to be better and to be someone my daughter can grow up to be proud of. There was not one aspect of my life that wasn’t touched by my little bundle of joy.
One of the biggest areas affected has been my outlook on the value of my time. Now, I’ve always generally been very good at managing my time, sometimes taking on more than I have room for and fighting my way to get it all done. This wasn’t an example I wanted my daughter to assume was a normal part of life.
So instead of stretching myself thin, I became more intentional about things I did. As a result, I accomplished more in less time and overall a lot happier as a result.
I’ve always been proud of being married to my best friend. It has made the journey through life that much easier and in some cases harder, with most everything leading to me pushing myself to do better.
The best thing I’ve enjoyed this past year is watching my family interact with each other. How we’ve all been able to learn and grow as a team.
While for the most part I’ve adjusted to being called dad, one thing that I haven’t adjusted to is crappy people. The ones that destroy the innocence of children, those who try to force their kids into what they feel is best, neglecting to notice the unique perspective that kids bring to the table.
Another item that bother me daily is that I have to raise my daughter in a world that will treat her differently because of her skin color. It bothers me to know she’ll have to fight ten times harder to barely receive half the respect of her non-poc counterparts.
I pray constantly for the wisdom to help my daughter through life and strive daily to create better things in the world for her to enjoy and learn from.
Nonetheless, being a fatherhood has made me unexpectedly happier, and much more patient with others.
Habits that Uplift
Whenever the topic of a person’s individual habits happens to be, it seems to follow with a match of my habits are better in this weird passive-aggressive way we adults tend to do things. This often leaves me with the question of “Is how we’re spending our time right now preparing us for what we hope to become in the future?”, I mean, if you really think about it, we spend a lot of time pursuing pointless endeavors.
We often miss how the little things in our life tend to have the biggest impact. Often we stress ourselves out before even making it out of bed in the morning.
How we start our days tends to set the precedence for how our days tend to turn out and our outlook on the experiences we have each day.
In order to be better, I had to start my days better. One area that I focused in on to help improve my outlook was my morning quiet time. This was by far the biggest area of improvement for me, it involved waking up earlier and spending quality time studying my Bible. Growing up, this was a something my mother made me do every day but it wasn’t until I was out on my own that I realized the importance of keeping this childhood habit going.
The approach I took in this area was to use a platform called Coach.me to help me growth-hack this area of my life. Things started out a little rough and there were a few times I wanted to call it quits. Any attempts at establishing a routine with a newborn makes for a very challenging experience.
My goal was to be awake by 6 A.M daily. With things like pushing 80+ hour work weeks for the first 4 months of being a parent, it wasn’t always easy to get up by six, especially when I could just sleep in an extra hour. As time went on, it became easier to wake up regardless of if I had anything going on that day.
It was helpful to not beat myself up over missing one check-in but to pick back up and continue forward.
On the opposite end of the scale, I was able to consistently check in when it came to my daily bible reading and prayer time. This particular habit has an advantage in comparison to my goal of waking up earlier, as this was one I started the year prior and had built up a pretty consistent method towards meeting that goal daily. For 2015, my focus was to not just read my bible and pray every day but to also find and apply it towards my life. From business to relationships, goal setting, forgiveness, patience and interpersonal relationships, I was able to find something that applied to the experience I was going through.
Looking back, I’m glad I stuck with making this adjustment to my daily routine.
Discovering the Power of Creativity
After writing my first book, I entered a brief period of depression. Luckily, I was surrounded by a community of people that helped me to see the silver lining in the midst of it all.
2015 marked the ten-year mark in my creative career. Truth be told, things just didn’t seem that fun anymore. Looking back at the various companies I worked for, most every environment was centered around stepping on someone else to get ahead. This was the only way you could make it in this field many would advise. Yet, this was far from true.
I began to get tired of doing the same things day in and day out, listening to empty promises and having to endure working with racist individuals that openly expressed and were rewarded for their actions. With the many years of experience and constantly putting off my dreams just to feel like a line item mixed with a burning desire to create experiences that were meaningful, I decided to launch a newsletter and a podcast.
The individuals I met during the course of this journey inspired me to continue creating. Listening to their journey gave incredible insights into my own creative power.
I learned that it didn’t matter what happened in the past, what mattered was what I was doing about right now. I spent less time worrying about what others were achieving and more time on what I could be doing to improve myself.
In order to do this, adjustments would have to be made. I spent more time in the library pursuing my interest in areas like photography, business, economics, psychology, design thinking and allowed immersed myself more into writing and sharing that with others.
Even though I wrote daily, I didn’t publish everything. On the blog side of things I published 23 new posts, growing the total archive of my personal blog to 68 posts.
I wanted to improve my writing as well, so again using a growth-hacking mentality I used apps like Evernote to keep things synced across my devices, Hemingway Editor to make my editing process easier and Grammarly to improve my grammar usage and catch my early writing mistakes.
Even though I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to this year, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been blessed to have. I learned a lot about people and especially myself.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to let others in but equally there are times when you have to shut them out and focus on who you are and what you want to leave behind. I’ve learned that the world needs more patience and caring people and that I can be one of them while still getting things done.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you stumble, or crumble, pick yourself up and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Not everyone will be as supportive as they swear they’ll be, especially when things aren’t always immediately benefiting them. Yet even with this, it’s up to you to live your life. Although others will try, it’s up to you to think and be your own individual.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. – Helen Keller
Hopefully, at the end of my life, I can say to God I’ve fully utilized each and every talent he’s given me. So for 2016, my motto is to Think Bigger. Be Ambitious. Execute on my goals without Mercy.
Let’s make 2016 an amazing year!