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It has proven to be true for me: Every year appears to pass faster than the previous year. I felt ambushed by January 1, 2013. Maybe you can relate.

If you’re a regular Uncommon Life reader you’ll know that each year I reflect on the previous year. The process helps me internalize lessons learned and appreciate progress that I would otherwise overlook while setting my sights on new goals in projects.

A quick glance at my 2011 review reminds of what an incredible year that was for me. Thankfully, I don’t use previous years as a yardstick for the next. As a TUL reader posted on the last post, I too find that approach more overwhelming than inspiring. Instead I set out to create an entirely new adventure for the New Year.

There are many ways to reflect and review life, but I tend to begin the process with two simple questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. And what didn’t go well?

As with any year, there were smooth seas and challenging seas. Overall, however, the year was fantastic.

What went well:

Maxims 4 Mavericks: I converted my previously existing blog into an entirely new platform for what I’ve called, “Paradigm bending pop art. I worked long and hard to design the site to make it interesting and fun — and I’ve been pleased with the results. The bounce rate is low, the art has been viewed and shared in over 60 countries, and the average time a visitor stays on the site is about 4 minutes (not bad for a blog). I’ve also been surprised to tally up the amount of art I’ve created in just over half the year totaling 118 pieces.

  • Take-away 1: You can’t take art of out of an artist. Since starting this blog, I’ve realized how much I have missed this creative aspect of my life.
  • Take-away 2: Artistic pursuits help me combat stress while also stimulating my brain in ways that have helped me approach all areas of my life with a new found creativity.

Commissioned art: Maxims4Mavericks opened up some great creative opportunities for me. Through Maxims4Mavericks’ proprietary process, I worked with several companies and CEO’s to commission custom artwork and company logos, the most recent project with Peach New Media (see the art here).

  • Take-away: Working with other thriving companies in a creative capacity is rejuvenating. Note to self: Do this more often.

Travel: I may not have reached as many new countries in 2012 as I hoped, but I certainly can’t complain. Towards the tail end of the year there was a stretch of 90 days whereby only 6 days of it were spent at home. I visited London, Hungary, France, Tanzania, and Kenya — not to mention some great domestic locations including New Orleans, Boston, New York, and many more. The highlight, I must say, was Africa. What I saw and experienced there I will never forget. As a lover of technology and photography, I challenged myself to make my trip an “iPhone Safari” limiting most of my photography to the use of my iPhone. It was fun. Check out some of the pictures here.

  • Take-away 1: The marriage of “travel and work” continues to be my preferred MO. My approach to traveling rarely, if ever, fits the common definition of vacation. Most often I am working (or as I prefer to say, “creating”) at the same time.  As I wrote in a previous review, “Mixing travel and work is more gratifying than setting aside rare and infrequent trips with the purpose of idle relaxation.” Even while in my safari van, for example, I wrote about 25 blog posts on my iPhone. (I know, I’m strange.)
  • Take-away 2: I still don’t know where my travel tolerance maxes out. Living out of a suitcase for the majority of the year never tired me. This is both good news and somewhat scary news. If I truly had no reason to have a “home base of operations” would I ever stop traveling? I guess that answer is TBD.

Embracing life: In 2012 I set out with a philosophy in mind: Work hard; play hard. In other words, I wanted to be more “present,” whether I was working or relaxing. I feel I came leaps and bounds in this area after a crazed Type-A approach to life in 2011. I set many challenging work-related and leisurely goals and set out to transition between them with less psychological overlap. It was an interesting micro experiment in Zen. Some of my findings and techniques I share here.

  • Take-away 1: If you don’t create your own boundaries other people will. There will always be more work available to fill your schedule. Therefore, it’s imperative to schedule fun — and leave the work behind. I realize this may appear somewhat contradictory to my thoughts in the “Travel” section. I assure you, it’s not. Many times, my “leisure” is made of shorter bursts of time consisting of a few hours (not days, or weeks). But it’s up to each of us to find what meets own needs.
  • Take-away 2: Being more present means learning to grab hold of the emotions that serve you best. When we can hold onto and focus on a constructive emotion, it expands and intensifies while other less desirable emotions begin to dissipate. In other words, emotions are either fed and sustained or ignored and dissolved.

Real estate: I streamlined and simplified my Lost Boys Project business structure and operations, which has substantially cut expenses and freed up company time and resources. The same could be also said for my CA based real estate company, Healo Capital. We acquired several new exciting assets and strengthened our core-competencies setting the stage to scale well in 2013.

Relationship building: I’m happy to say I expanded my social network of fun, impressive, and inspiring entrepreneurs in CA and beyond. Spending more time with ambitious, like-minded people has placed a fantastic gust of wind in sails. Hat tip to The Young Entrepreneur Council for introducing me to many of them.

What didn’t go well:

The Uncommon Life: I feel disappointed that I could not produce more content for this blog over the past 12 months. I immensely enjoy exploring and analyzing topics in depth. The challenge is, it’s cognitively demanding and time consuming. Writing 1,000+ word analytical essays after my typical 12 hour work days is just… well, not feasible. I will continue posting content on The Uncommon Life, but I also must come to terms with the fact that I simply cannot post as much as I would like. I could make the posts shorter and less “polished” and thorough, but I am a firm believer in maintaining a high standard of continuity. With that said, I would still like to share more with you. So, I have decided to start a 3rd blog that is better suited for my currently life. The posts will be shorter, more frequently, and also, more personal. I will be launching this blog very shortly.

Writing projects: Similar to my point above, I have found it troublesome to tackle some of my larger writing projects such as the final parts of Be Uncommonly Productive and a couple more ebooks I have partially written. It pains me to see books sit half written, but considering everything on my plate, some compromises must be made.

Life balance: I must be careful here. For the most part, I would not change a thing about how I chose to live 2012. However, there were several extremely demanding times, which resulted in high stress and degraded health. It’s a long known problem of mine: I overcommit to too many things — especially during times I feel great and have a temporary lull in my workload. I often underestimate the cost of diminished mental clarity/creativity and infrequent sickness.

  • Take-away 1: Understand that work is cyclical. Be prepared or you’ll catch yourself overcommitted and overworked.
  • Take-away 2: The cognitive switch penalty is real. While drawing upon multiple skill-sets (from real estate to writing to art) and pursuing numerous unrelated goals has it’s benefits, it is also something I need to be careful of.

E-commerce: With the new addition of Maxims4Mavericks artwork, I now have an even large repertoire of content available to share and sell with the world, but I fail to do this effectively.

  • Take-away: As I wrote last year, “I am a creator at heart, not a marketer. I need a helping hand with promotion.” It seems little has change here. Ideally, I should find a marketing person to who can help me in this area. Bringing someone else on board would help me create and share more content and art with more people. If you know anyone, please contact me.

Final thoughts: I can safely say that 2012 was a very worthwhile and . A close examination of my activities in 2012 has made me realize something interesting: A solid 35-40% of the work I did in 2012 won’t be required or repeated in 2013. With the right boundaries and systems in place, this should allow me to scale all of my existing businesses and allow me to spend more time with my wife, my family, and my close friends. It’s going to be a great year.

Enough about me. What went well for you? Any lessons learned? Have a theme for 2013?  (Haven’t thought about it? Here’s an outline to help get you started.) Would love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

Be uncommon,

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