Learnings from 2014

I was recently reading an interesting post on Malcolm's site, and came across a comment by Ruby that got me thinking.

For a bit of context which is indirectly related. I posed the prompt of ‘what would you tell your past self from a year ago?’ as a way of generating answers to the question of ‘what did you learn in the past year?’

I feel like I've learned a lot over the last few years, and dramatically boosted my rate of personal growth, but I've never sat down and documented what I feel like I've learnt. While I'm uncertain of the value of the documentation itself — after all, if I've really learnt it, why would I need to record it? — if all else fails it could be useful to have a documented list of changes as a measuring stick for that internal feeling of progress.

So this is a list of things I feel I learnt over the course of 2014, and perhaps earlier. Not just things I've heard that sound logical, but ideas or concepts that have become deeply embedded and emotionally resonant.

  • I can be organised

    This one seems obvious, but most of my life has been spent living life in roughly as disorganised a way as was not going to cause more trouble than the extra effort to organise. Having watched friends around me who were remarkably organised it seemed not exactly like a superpower, or unobtainable skill, but more like a personality trait, and one I simply didn't have.

    2013 - 2014 was marked by, amongst other changes, a launching of new projects, and a relaunching of older ones, and a growing ability to organise it all. Funnily enough, it didn't even require extraordinary effort to build the skill, just the arrival of motivation to practice it. Being well-organised is now such an ingrained skill that it can be hard to remember just how lacking in it I was a few short years ago.

  • Focusing

    The aforementioned growth in organisation came with its own problems. I was soon spread thin over too many projects, my weeknights consumed by ten minutes spent here, twenty there, and so on. Again, talking about how valuable it is to focus is a straightforward intellectual argument that makes a lot of sense, but it took a reasonable amount of time spent being spread thin to really develop a deeply ingrained feel for when I was trying to do too much.

  • Flexibility

    The other negative aspect to becoming highly organised, and packing my schedule with too many things, was a loss of flexibility. Too often I found myself unable to try something new and promising, or giving it a shot and counting the tasks I was falling behind on.

    This entry is a little different to the other two. I have developed an emotional appreciation for how important flexibility is, but I feel like there's a long way this skill can be driven, and a lot more it can accomplish for me, given increased levels of competency.

  • Most problems can be easily solved

    This one I owe directly to CFAR. It's amazing just how many problems, personal, professional or other can be solved, once you begin to notice them, realise that you can fix them, and set aside a trivial amount of time to do so.

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