2015 Year in Review (Renaissance Year #2)

2015 Was a Good Year

Last year, I decided to take a more structured approach at evaluating each year as it comes to a close, as well as setting some more purposeful and measurable goals for the coming year. (I’ll write about that next.)

Here’s my look back at 2015. Overall, I was very happy with this year. I had some good successes, some wonderful experiences, and I am surrounded by a wonderful husband, a nice home, many good friends, and I have enjoyable, rewarding activities to participate in.

I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do – not by a long shot. Maybe the goals I set for this year were too ambitious. But I accomplished a lot, and most important, I enjoyed my life.

What went well in 2015?

The biggest success of 2015 has been my wedding business. I officiated 77 weddings, and Jeff did one. I realized over $11,000 in revenue, while driving about 7,000 miles and incurring about $3,000 in expenses, for a profit of about $8,000.

Although Retire Fabulously! is still struggling to gain readership and engagement, I wrote some excellent content. All of my articles are being cross-posted on lgbtSr.org, and near the end of the year, I had a guest post published on TopRetirements.com, which drew some good comments and a dozen or so new subscribers.

Cover slanted with shadowI published my first full-length book! I’m very proud of it. It hasn’t sold as well yet as I had hoped, but that should pick up in 2016. But I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment for having finished the book and going through the entire self-publishing process.

The year was very successful and enjoyable musically. I played in the PVCC jazz ensemble all year, and in the SCC jazz ensemble in the fall, and of course I was in Desert Overture all year.  Desert Overture’s swing/jazz band performed three times. More significantly, I submitted a proposal to the Board to make the jazz ensemble a full-time unit, it was approved, and I led the director search. I also designed and led a jazz improvisation workshop. I got to play at the Nash twice. I wasn’t totally satisfied with some of my solo performances, so that represents an area for improvement.

For the most part, Jeff and I kept our spending in line.

We took three vacation trips this year: a five-day road trip to Sonoma/Napa in California, a five-day visit to Vancouver to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and our annual week at Club Atlantis in Puerto Vallarta.

Jeff & Dave - Andretti Winery


I did a good job socializing with friends.

Comparing 2015 to 2014, one of the biggest differences is that I eliminated things from my life that were no longer fulfilling or useful to me. During the first half of 2014, I was still serving as an Area Governor for Toastmasters; it was part of the requirements for achieving Distinguished Toastmaster. I also mentored a new, struggling club. While I enjoyed those activities to some extent, I was only doing them to reach DTM; it wasn’t something I was passionate about and it took time away from other things I really wanted to do. That’s just one example. Now I can honestly say that the only organizational commitments I have are those I want.

In a similar vein, in 2014 I spent a lot of time reading and taking courses and webinars on how to blog and write. I learned a lot, but in hindsight, I overloaded myself with information. At the start of 2015, I realized it was time to stop “getting ready” and time to start getting more done. You don’t really learn something until you start putting it to use, and it’s useless to learn something if you don’t put it to use.

What didn’t go well in 2015?

Nothing went particularly wrong in 2015, but I didn’t accomplish many of the goals and behavior changes I set out to make. Although I got better at being disciplined, I still have a lot of room to improve.

I didn’t write regularly, didn’t exercise at all, and didn’t make as much progress toward goals as I would have liked.  I wasted far too much time on Facebook and solitaire.

So how did I do?

At the beginning of 2015, I resolved to make these changes in my day-to-day life. I’ve added a statement on how I did with each of them.

  • Minimize time on Facebook and playing solitaire.
    I have not minimized time on Facebook. I have unfollowed a number of people, but I still compulsively jump onto FB throughout the day. I need to limit myself to twice a day.
    I did better with solitaire, though. Migrating to Windows 10 helped, because Microsoft took away the free/ad-free versions of their games. The only game I have left on my computer is Euchre, which I love. I still play it once or twice a day, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on games, overall, as I did.
  • More carefully evaluate the activities I undertake.
    I did well with this.
  • Become more disciplined and do the following things regularly:
    • Write every day – I have written more, but I still don’t write every day.
    • Exercise 4 times a week (3 times to the gym, 1 bike ride, hike, or long walk) – I have totally failed at this. I never did go to the gym. I totally wasted a one-year membership. I haven’t gone biking in at least a year.
    • Practice 3 times a week – I did pretty well with this, although I did better during some periods than others. I tend to be more motivated to practice when I have music for my various ensembles that is really challenging for me to play. I still don’t practice just for the sake of practicing.
    • Clear my desk every week – I totally failed at this.
    • Read every day – I read a lot on the internet (useful things, not just mindless surfing), but I didn’t do that well with books and magazines.
    • Meditate every day – Total failure. I don’t think I meditated even once.
  • List at least 20 CDs, videos, and/or books for sale on Amazon every week
    I didn’t list 20 items every week, but I did so on quite a few weeks. I have sold a lot of CDs on Amazon (and a couple on eBay) and made hundreds of dollars.

I also set these goals for what I wanted to accomplish in 2015:

  • Complete migration from CD jukebox to music computer
    Didn’t happen.
  • Sell margarita machine
    Didn’t happen.
  • Build shed
    We did this!
  • Go through all closets, garage, and attic and eliminate what I no longer want
    Didn’t happen. But Jeff and I are committed to this for 2016. If we hold each other accountable, we stand a much better chance of success. Plus, I’m really ready to do this now. This has moved from “I really should” to “I want to.”
  • Clear out email and old files
    I made some progress, but there’s so much more to be done.
  • Retire Fabulously!
    • Publish at least one book – Done!
    • Reach 1000 subscribers – Nowhere close. I’m over 100, though.
    • Have six guest posts published – I just accomplished one, but it has brought good results.Ultimate Retirement Resource Guide cover-slanted thumbnail
    • Create super resource list (new bribe) – Done! And I’m very pleased with it. It’s too soon to tell if it will result in a greater conversion rate.
    • Start interviewing people – Not done yet.
  • Ceremonies by Dave
    • Officiate 100 weddings – I officiated 77 weddings, and Jeff did one. Not bad! I learned that wedding business is cyclical (no surprise), and officiating 100 weddings would have made me impossibly busy in April and October.

So, this year I have had mixed results with what I set out to accomplish.

Yesterday, I read where only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually kept. By that standard, I did pretty well.

I have also realized that it’s easy to look forward into a new year with an overly optimistic and ambitious list of goals that it would take superhuman effort to accomplish.

I also realize that I don’t have to get everything done in one year. I will probably (hopefully) have 20 to 30 years of retirement in which to accomplish many more things with my life.

In the end, though, our highest purpose in life is to enjoy it. I can easily say that I have enjoyed 2015.

(c) 2016 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Dhilung Kirat. Used under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.