Things I learned in 2014
2014 was possibly the greatest year of my life. I’m not a huge fan of these cheesy reflection blog posts, but I thought it would be a shame to not document the things I’ve learned this year. And if I’m going to write the list down, why not share it? So here goes…
Keep a physical journal. I’ve been a longtime user of tools like Evernote, but just a few months ago went out and purchased a physical notebook. There’s something about writing my notes on real paper, with a real pen, that I’ve found much more satisfying than typing them. I’ve also found that physically writing things down helps me remember them.
Compete only with yourself. Competition is important because it usually results in quicker growth, but competing with others makes you dependent on them. What if your competition disappears? Then you’re left to stagnate. I’ve learned that often times, the best place to look for competition is inward. Finish every week a better person then you were at the beginning of the week, and it will pay dividends.
Age is just a distraction. …and is often irrelevant when you’re competing only with yourself.
You have everything you need. I read this somewhere and it really struck a chord with me. We tell ourselves we must have product x, tool y, in order to do n, but often we’re just distracting ourselves.
Allow yourself to fail. At one point I was afraid to go “all in“ on projects, fearing the consequences of failure. I aimed to make everything impossible to fail at. I realized this year, however, that failure is important. It’s how we learn.
Very few people actually care. At first blush this sounds quite pessimistic, but I’ve actually found it to be profoundly liberating. Do whatever the fuck you want. Far fewer people are paying attention than you may think.
”People forget the words you speak to them, but remember how you have made them feel”
Remember names. It may sound trivial, but remembering names is important.
Read more books. At one point in 2013 I remember telling someone that I only read articles and blog posts, because there’s too much friction in reading books and they usually take too long to read. Silly, I know. Since then I’ve learned that blog posts may offer breadth, but (non-fiction, in this case) books offer depth, which is often tremendously more valuable.
I learned what a framework is. I learned that at their core, frameworks are really just a set of ideas and rules. Knowing this, I realized that frameworks certainly exist outside of programming — we use them to make decisions, to establish order in society, etc. It’s important to know what exactly a framework is, because it allows you to decide when you should use them and when you should go against them.
”Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you” - Steve Jobs
Normal is boring. Cliché, sure.
Update 12/30: My friends Kevin and Leah have both posted their own versions as well.