My 2015 Year in Review

Today the world says goodbye to 2015, but before we do that, it’s always beneficial to look back at where we came from. At the beginning of the year I had three main goals involving my flexibility, my chess and my writing. I had some ups and downs, but mostly ups, and I can end the year feeling pretty good about my efforts. I also went through some interesting personal developments.

Let’s take a look in depth.

In General

I started the first six months of 2015 following a very strict time schedule.  I woke up every single day at 6:45am, Monday to Sunday, no exceptions.  I had my entire day planned out.  In terms of productivity, this was awesome.  I got so much done.  I also burned out by the end, but that was a very solid six months.

I learned how to solve a Rubik cube!  I wrote that post in the middle of November, where my average solve time was about 3-5min.  I can now do it in under two minutes, with my fastest time being 1:36.  In 45 days, I went from not being able to solve it at all to doing it in less than 100 seconds.  That’s awesome.

Perhaps the biggest thing this year will be remembered for is my ankle injury.  I had to walk with a cane for about a month.  This affected me quite badly,  and though I tried to hide it, I fought through depression during this time.  Seriously, don’t hurt your ankles.

On the more positive side, I also fundamentally changed my diet.  I gave up all terrible food for a month!  And then Christmas happened and I ate a whole bunch of chocolate.  That’s okay, next week I can go right back to regular eating.

Right now, I’m happy and healthy, which sets me up to have an incredible 2016.  I can’t complain about that.

Flexibility

This would be my only failure this year.  I wanted to get the splits.  I stretched consistently throughout the year, making small but meaningful progress … until my ankle injury stopped me cold for two months.  I could barely stand straight, so stretching was out of the question.

In the end, here’s where I stand with the three variations:

So close, yet so far.

Not bad at all.

I’m thoughtfully optimistic here, it seems.

Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait until 2016 to reach the floor.  I’ve wanted the splits my whole life, I can wait a few more months.

Chess

This one was an unqualified success.  I hadn’t played chess in a few years, not seriously at least.  My original goal was to study hard, play some games and try to get back to my old online rating of 1800.  I did that in six months.  A few months later I passed the 1900 rating mark, and I currently sit at 1970.

Through 45 games on chess.com, I went 35-2-8 against an average rating of 1754.  Basically, I destroyed my expectations coming in.

I can thank much of this to my serious study of GM Smirnov‘s course Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding.  It has completely changed the way I look at the chess game, and my results speak for themselves.  After my first chess tournament, I said I wanted to become a chess master.  With my progress this year, that just might become a reality.

2015 may have been my best chess year ever.  I’ll have to work twice as hard to match it in 2016.  I’m ready.

Writing

This one is rather interesting.  I said I wanted to write more, and I did.  I went 218 days straight of writing, amassing over 310,000 words.

I also went the preceding 147 days writing virtually never.  It’s a tale of two half-years.  On the one hand, I should celebrate my achievements; on the other hand, I look back at all the wasted time and wonder at what might have been.  If only I had started the year off forcing myself to write every single day!  Just imagine where I could be!

At the same time, if I begin by forcing myself to write, perhaps that changes everything.  Perhaps I don’t feel the same urgency.  Maybe I don’t take it as seriously.  Sometimes to take that big leap forward you need to start with several steps backwards.  I really can’t complain about where I’ve ended up.

Indeed, I became professional author by the end!  I worked on a book with my chess coach and hero, GM Smirnov!  That’s unbelievable.  I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.  If you told me at the beginning of the year that someone would pay me to write something, I would have been thrilled.  Well, those 147 days notwithstanding, I better be thrilled, then.

Conclusion

I had three main areas I wanted to improve this year.  With chess, I’m doing my best ever.  With writing, I’m writing more, and enjoying it much more, any time since university.  In terms of pure output, I’ve never written this much.  With flexibility, I’m better than when I started.  In all three areas, I improved, and in most cases massively.

Are there things I would like to change, to do differently?  Of course, but that’s what 2016 is for.  Ankle injury aside, this year rocked.  Now I just need to make next year even better.  I’m ready for the challenge.

Happy New Year everyone.  Whether 2015 was kind or ill to you, here’s to all the best for 2016!

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