Yearly Focus

2014: Goal, Theme & Challenge

Last year I blogged about a few efforts I had defined for my year and really enjoyed it. I stretched myself a bit, had something to strive for, and had a decent success rate. One of the most surprising benefits was that by explicitly setting a challenge, and knowing I would do this in future years, I had an easier time saying no to other ideas I had. I realized that I could set them as a challenge in the future, and thus felt no guilt that I wasn’t doing anything to achieve them in 2013.

This year I will do the same. I’ve of course learned a bit and will be making a few modifications to the process.

Goal – Something I want to accomplish that is measurable and relatively continual. eg. exercise X times per week or watch less than X hours of TV per week.

Theme – A central topic for the year – something I can spend time thinking about and take a few concrete efforts towards. eg. grow as a leader, rethink what health means

Challenge – Something big and binary that I want to conquer – likely something I’ll have to train for. eg. climb Mr. Everest or surf Mavericks

2014 Goal: Read 24 Books

In 2014 I’m going attempt to read 24 books. 12 fiction and 12 non-fiction.

In 2013 I probably read just over a half-dozen books. Only one was fiction (The Hobbit), the rest were of about various career, parenting or religious topics. So, two dozen books is a decent goal, but not by any means impossible.

Lately, most of my reading has been online; articles, blog posts or social media updates. Those are all great things that I often learned from and enjoy, but they do not provide the same benefits as reading books. Books offer more depth due to their length and the barriers to publishing often produce well edited and more thought through works – though there are many downfalls to the current state of publishing as well.

More importantly, the way I read books tends to be much different than how I read online. I’ve realized that when reading a book I tend to focus much more. While reading articles I often follow rabbit holes, open new tabs and start researching other items. While this is a fine way to read some things, I want to make sure I balance them. Reading allows me to dive deeply into a single topic, to pause to think and to relax more. Reading from paper or e-paper is also easier on the eyes and I’ve found it to be easier to fall asleep at night after reading from one of these as opposed to an lcd screen.

2014 Theme: Bear the Burdens of Others

My theme for 2014 will be bearing the burdens of others.

I have been blessed with excess. I have more than enough money to feed and shelter my family. More than enough to time to have leisure and to pursue hobbies. More than enough health & energy to travel to distant places and participate in exciting adventures.

I am grateful for these things, but being grateful alone is selfish. This year I want to be intentional about further using my excess to help others than need it. To lift up those with nowhere to stand, to be a post for those who need a place to lean in hard times and to offer second chances to those who would otherwise not have them.

2014 Challenge: Complete an Ironman

In 2014 I am challenging myself to finish an Ironman Triathlon.

The race, which usually takes 10-14 hours includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike & 26.2 mile run.

I’ve wanted to do triathlons for a long time. My first one was a Boy Scout camp back when I was about 12. I really enjoyed the mixture of the three sports.

I ran Cross Country & Track in school, so running is my strong leg. I’ve actually never run a full marathon, even though I used to run ~10 miles per day. I’ve never done much distance biking or swimming – but I have a bit of swimming experience from my water polo days and did some road biking when I studied abroad.

My goal will be to finish, but I suspect I won’t be happy being in back of the race. When I used to run competitively I would usually place top 3 for my age group and I’ve even won a few races, so I’ll have to taper my expectations.