This past year opened my eyes

This past year opened my eyes

My boss was retiring. Everyone was sad to see him go. He was a great boss.

This was the man that hired me 3 years ago. It was the man that trusted me to take on a project after only 8 months on the job. It was the man that everyone respected and trusted because he always had our backs.

He didn’t mingle in our work. He didn’t nitpick and ask us why we didn’t do all of these tiny, minute details. He trusted our work.

My new boss took over. She’s nice, but she’s new and learning. She’s also very concerned that everything was done right, even the tiniest of details. This caused some hard times for me.

This year I took on a new project. This project would force me out of my comfort zone. I would be responsible for more than ever before. I would have to lead others. I would have to educate our new employees.

It was a tough project and it didn’t go smoothly by any means. It seemed like something went wrong every day. I didn’t get the data I needed. I didn’t get the feedback I wanted from the new boss. I didn’t get the help I needed from my team members.

Much of the blame for this falls on myself, I acknowledge that.

Reaching my boiling point

There was something else that drove me crazy. After completing this project, I was sent out of town to work on a completely different project in a city across the state.

While my project was being reviewed, and while I was in a different city, I was getting bombarded with questions and “suggestions” for things that I could do better. Or, even worse, things that I had to completely redo.

This drove me crazy. I was going back and redoing things that I thought were done. I was doing things multiple times, and wasted my time.

I was irate. I was overwhelmed. I was doing the best I could, and all I felt like I was being criticized the entire time.

I didn’t deal with this well at first. I felt anger. I had outbursts. Stress levels were through the roof.

I need to do better

In this moment I realized that I still have a lot of room for improvement. Getting so angry and stressed was not something I was normally doing, so this was a wake up call.

It made me think about what I could fix. For one, I could become less reactive. I shouldn’t let these outbursts take over my emotions.

It made me realize that I should take inventory of the emotions I’m having and try to understand them. In order to do this, I challenge myself to write down what I’m feeling in the moment, and then explore the root of what is causing this emotion.

The way I do this is by writing down the emotion, then asking “why?” then exploring the root cause while asking “why?” at least 3 or 4 times.

The internal dialogue goes something like this

“I’m feeling really angry right now. Why?”

“Because I’m stressed from work and all of the things I have to go back and do.”


“Because I don’t feel like I should do them again.”


“Because I felt like what I did was good enough.”

I keep going until I get to the root cause. Afterwards I evaluate my reaction. I looked at what I did, look at what my boss suggested, and then I asked myself, “Okay, what can I fix personally and what can I learn from this situation?”

Lesson Learned

This experience has taught me to deal with uncertainty more. Having a new boss was an adjustment. I haven’t really experienced these types of challenges the way I have in 2016.

I learned to deal with more uncertainly (not knowing what to expect from a new boss), learned to deal with discomfort (dealing with others who rant to me or dealing with disagreements with others).

As a result, in 2016 I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew as a person. This year I took on more leadership roles.

I learned what it means to lead, did a very poor job (but I’m improving) this year. I also learned how to better harness my presentation skills and how to deal with presenting in front of groups of individuals with vastly more experience than myself.

As for my goals from 2016 and for 2017…

One of my goals was to continue learning every single day. One way that I effectively have done this is by challenging myself to learn at least one new thing each and every day. This is a small commitment that I was able to stick to and will be able to continue to stick to it no matter what.

The way that I’m able to apply this idea is by asking myself mindful questions. When I read an article or book I ask myself “how can I apply this to my life?,” then I extract the ideas or concepts that are most relevant to my life.

“Without knowledge action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile.”

One other thing I attempt to do is make the information actionable. I want to make the information applicable to my life as soon as possible.

For example, say I read a book and learn a lot of information that is relevant to my life. I’ll ask myself “What can I do to act on this information today? What can I do to act on that information this week? What can I do to act on this information this month?”

I find these questions force me to come up with action items I can use in my life. There are times where I find myself learning a new concept that’s irrelevant because I’m not thinking in terms of how I’m actually going to apply it to my life.

Helping others improve a little bit every day

Another goal for 2016 ways to help others improve. I feel I’ve done a good job of doing that in the current year. I’ve helped train 4 new employees while also helping my superiors as well.

I also believe Freethinkr has been a good platform for me to help others improve. I like to share my experiences and lessons I’ve learned in hopes that someone can derive some sort of value from when I write.

I believe this unselfish goal helps me focus outside of my own happiness. I know if I’m able to help others improve it will help me feel more accomplished and give life more meaning.

My final goal was to generate more income from eCommerce. This is actually been going pretty well this year, but there’s a lot more room for improvement. Sales have been high considering this is my first year but margins have been extremely low.

My goals for 2017 are more of the same:

  1. Learn one new thing every day
  2. Go out of my way to help others
  3. Continue to grow my side income
  4. Be more aware of my emotions and manage them more effectively

How about you? What is one lesson you learned from 2016? 

I Wasn’t Going to Do This

I Wasn’t Going to Do This

I didn’t plan to write about my year in review. I guess I don’t think much of New Years.

People on Facebook post “new year, new me!” I think these posts are ridiculous. Why should the new year change who you are?

Many people don’t keep their new year’s resolutions. Isn’t this enough to show a different year doesn’t change who people are?

Despite this, I’m going to write about my year in review. I had an amazing 2015. The purpose of this post is for me to express my gratitude to the past year, and touch on what I hope to accomplish going forward.

“We Should Go to Europe!”

In early April, my girlfriend asked me if I would like to go to Europe with her in the summer. Travelling Europe was a dream of hers. She would be getting her Bachelor’s in May, and the upcoming summer would be the perfect time to travel.

I’d never been out of the country before. I was hesitant. I read news stories about horrific things that happen to tourists.

You know the stories – terrorist attacks and random acts of violence.

Prior to the trip, I did my research. I read about people who got pickpocketed or scammed.

I read horror stories about people getting caught in the airport or losing their luggage.

Oh yeah, my other concern had to do with the 10 hour flight from the U.S. to Europe.

I knew flying is safer than driving. But I still had thoughts of the Malaysian airline plan that randomly went missing.

Despite these (completely irrational) fears I couldn’t say no. These worries weren’t going to prevent me from taking the trip of a lifetime.

“I can’t wait to go!” I said to my girlfriend with slight hesitation.

I’m Grateful I Had This Opportunity

I’m grateful I could take a month off from work and travel. This isn’t a privilege that many people get to have, and I had it.

In July, my girlfriend and I traveled throughout Spain by car for two weeks. Afterwards we hopped on a plane to Amsterdam, Netherlands for a few days. Then we took a train to Cologne, Germany for a couple of days. Then a short bus trip to Brussels, Belgium. And finally one last flight back to Spain to visit my girlfriend’s family for a week.

A Wonderful Learning Experience

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to observe different cultures and the different ways of life.

I was exposed to the Spanish culture of taking afternoon siestas and lunches being the biggest meal of the day.

I saw a more laid back, slower pace of life in these countries. Contrast this with America, where everything is quick, full-throttle all of the time. The slower pace of life was a nice change.

I’m grateful that I got to see many beautiful landmarks. I saw countless Cathedrals throughout Spain, including those in Avila, Seville, and Barcelona.

I also got to see breathtaking museums in Amsterdam and Cologne. Museums which chronicled the rise and fall of Nazi Germany in World War II. Others that exposed me to the art of Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

I’m grateful because I found a greater appreciation for the world.

I appreciate the other cultures that share the world.

I appreciate how far we have come as a civilization.

What Else am I Grateful for in 2015?

Going to Europe was the trip I will never forget. But it’s not the only thing that I’m grateful for in 2015.

I’ve learned to become more present. I’ve learned to live in the current moment.

In years past I would fret about the future or the past instead of enjoying the present.

As a result, my mind focused on those things that I cannot control right now.

I’ve learned to live in the present and savor each and every day that I have.

You Know How You Savor a Good Meal?

You smell the food prior to eating. You chew the food slower, and try to identify its many flavors. You strive to make every bite count.

This is my new approach to life. I try to savor every moment that I have. I don’t rush to get things done.

I’m more present. I live in the current moment. I work daily to become more aware of where I am and what I am doing.

As a result, I’m more in touch with myself. I better recognize how I really feel.

If you read my last post, I don’t worry about the past or the future any more. Life’s too short to worry about those things. Time is just an illusion. All we have is the moment that is given to us right now.

I’m extremely happy with 2015.

Most people are ready to turn the calendar over to the next year. They hope for a better year. This year I don’t feel that way. I’ve grown a lot as a person. And I couldn’t be more pleased.

Moving On to 2016

I’m not asking much more from 2016 than I got from 2015. But, if I had to list out some goals, here they are:

1. Continue to learn every day.

Learning keeps you young. It makes you grow.

Not only that, but growing and learning helps you identify opportunities.

I also talked about this in my last post. I strive to make every moment a learning and growing opportunity.

2. I want to help others more.

It’s easy to focus on what I want.

In 2016 I strive to help others out more.

I think I do a decent job of this, but I would like to improve going forward. And I want to help others continue grow and learn as well.

That’s why I enjoy blogging so much. If only one person learns something new from what I write, then I have accomplished my goal as a writer.

3. Create an ecommerce business that will allow me to quit my job.

This last goal is one that I’ve been working at for a couple of years now.

I want to make money selling products online. This goal is completely unrelated to this blog. I have no intention of making money from this blog.

But I do have plans to grow my ecommerce business online. My goal is to generate enough income that will allow me to quit my job and focus on this business full time.

If this doesn’t work out, will 2016 be a bust? Of course not!

I had a goal of generating income from eBooks in 2015, and I failed miserably. And here I am, calling 2015 one of my best years ever.

These are my goals. But they’re not really goals as much as they are reminders. Reminders of who I am and who I would like to become.

What about you?

What is one thing you are grateful for in 2015? And what is one goal you would like to accomplish in 2016? Let me know with a comment below!