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The Year in Review

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
3 min read

I usually can't reflect on a year until well into the next, but I'm going to give it a try here. I want to get clear about what is worth focusing on more in 2020.

What worked

Daily blogging in November

I loved it. I grew my network. It made me dig for thoughts. It made me establish a writing habit and schedule it. Weird fact: for the past two years, the most popular post on my blog has been about daily blogging.

My physical health

I went keto in May and lost 50 pounds. It's no fad, it just has a fad title. My dad has been on essentially the same diet since 1995 and I credit it for his longevity (he has a masters in physical education and 35 years of football coaching under his belt — he knows about fitness and he was all in early on this “fad”).

I've never been this healthy in my life. I dropped from biking 10 miles a day in 2018-2019 to 5 miles a day by the end of 2019. This is because I added some strength exercises and meditation to the schedule in the same time slot. Well worth the exchange.

My mental health

I tried neurofeedback therapy and a full psychological/physiological examination of my brain in 2019.

They tell me the left side of my brain yielded “exceptional” results. My right brain is a dummy. It was one of the most remarkable differences this doctor had ever seen.

In a memory test, I was able to recall more information after 30 minutes of distractions than after 5  minutes of no distractions. That's also remarkable. It (combined with other tests) meant I have ADHD. I had never been diagnosed with that before, as I'm the opposite of hyperactive. They say that doesn't matter, it's all about how you process information and the tests don’t lie.

I kept this all a secret during my month of blogging on anxiety. I was experimenting with new medications all the time and didn't want to encourage the same of my readers (I’m not Tim Ferris).

I'm a mentally different person now than before my tests. It hasn't cured my anxiety, but it's improved my life about 20%. I would recommend anyone with good insurance get tested and find out how strange their brain really is.

Journaling

I continued my almost-10-year streak of daily journaling. Try it. It's good for you.

My family

I'm very lucky.

Travel

I completed my life-long tour of the U.S., finally visiting my 50th state.

What failed

Book sales

My book sales took a major dip compared to the previous years. This wasn't unexpected. I had little time to promote them and I used the time I did have to build newsletters, email campaigns, and websites for others. What made it a “failure” was the amount of money and time I spent to make the books beautiful and more available to libraries and bookstores. It was humongous effort compared to the return. Silver lining for 2020: I realize they will earn it back eventually and they are something to be proud to have in a library or bookstore.

Daily blogging after November

I didn't return to daily blogging. I know why: perfectionism. In the past I've blogged in different styles from Swiss Miss to Seth Godin to John Gruber. But I feel awful when I don't provide enough value in small posts. I know that’s crazy.

Nevertheless, I usually stop posting small and try to post in a James Clear or Leo Babauta style for a while. My belief in the power of brevity eventually stops me or burns me out. I end up nowhere — hating my writing, not posting for weeks. It happens year after year.

Solution for 2020: realize no one reads blogs anymore and just do whatever you feel like. Blog like you did in 1997 (yes, I blogged back then and it was a very different style), then save your best for the newsletter.

Independence

This is the ultimate goal of every writer I know. This year I planned how to become more independent, but I didn't schedule enough time to make any of it a reality. Solution for 2020: name this independence project and schedule it twice weekly.

Patreon

I dislike Patreon as a service for so many reasons, but that's not my failure. This is: I love my patrons, but I haven't shown them enough love because I so dislike Patreon. My plan was to bring it all in-house, building patronage into my website and providing every book, podcast, video, etc. I've ever done to my patrons. Instead, I only focused on producing more new words. My focus in 2020 must be more on people, not just creating text. I’ll quit Patreon and bring it all here, giving extra attention to those who care.

My podcast

I recorded a few shows for a corporate podcast I pitched this summer. It met with decent reviews internally, but due to budget constraints, it was shelved. Solution for 2020: either release these under my own podcast, or concede that I'm a writer and my interviews should probably be in newsletters/blog posts.

Music

My guitar got little play this year. This is a form of fun I need to reclaim.

That's it for now. I'm sure the list is longer, but I clearly need to get to work on some stuff. Thanks for listening if you made it to the end. Do you have review like this? Let me know.

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