Reflecting on 2013

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I’ve been asked a few times about my reflections on 2013, and I suppose it is high time for a reflection post.

When reflecting on long periods of time, I think it is critical to keep the big things in mind. Over the course of the year, many things have gone right, and many have gone wrong, but I mainly want to talk about the most important things in my life. For me (and for most people), it is family, relationships, and work.

Family.

After high school, I moved away for 10+ years. First it was Champaign-Urbana, IL, and then Boulder, CO, and then Chicago, IL. There were internships along the way in New York and Boston. And so I got used to seeing my family only a few times a year.

In the past 3 years, I’ve moved back near home, and it has been great. I see my parents at least a few times a month, and sometimes a few times a week. As a result, we’ve connected much more than I’ve been used to, and it has been awesome. An added benefit is that my family has been super supportive of my decision to give up the safe corporate gig and spend some time working in the startup world. My brother is in LA, but I’ve been able to make 2-3 trips down to visit him for about a week at a time.

I couldn’t ask for much more here. If anything, I’d like to visit my brother a bit more and will work on that this year.

Relationships.

I’ve had a steady girlfriend over this past year, and it has been very good. Through the relationship, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and what I want out of a relationship. More importantly, I’ve learned how important it is to commit time out of each day to spend time together and nurture the relationship.

I’ve been slowly building a new network in the startup community and that has also been great. It is good to meet like-minded people who in the same boat as I am. Before I quit my job in 2012, I knew almost nobody in the startup community. I’m nowhere near connected now, but I feel like I have some people to talk to and ask for advice when necessary.

Things haven’t all been great. Looking back, I realize that many of my relationships with past friends have weakened. Part of it is because one only has so much time in the day, and I’ve been building new relationships in the startup community. Part of it is because entrepreneur-life is just so different: I don’t feel that many of my friends understand what I am going through on a day-to-day basis. Part of it is laziness on my part. And part of it is that many of them have just started having children and their lifestyles have completely changed. Still, looking back, I’m not too happy about this, and should find a way to maintain my old friendships better.

Work.

This year, work has been awesome. The best part of being an entrepreneur is that I’m creating stuff that I want to create for the world. I shouldn’t even call it work. I should just call it “stuff I want to see happen in the world”.

2013 was full of learning. I’ve tried a lot, thought about a lot, and failed a lot. I wouldn’t really call it failure though. I’ve just built a lot of stuff that I’m not sure will work. Throughout the process, I’m gaining an education all over the map: from back-end implementation, to front-end design, UI/UX, user acquisition, online ads, positioning, marketing, blogging, etc. As the lessons build up, I’m starting to feel more capable. I feel like my gut instinct is better. I have opinions on what may work and what won’t. I think these opinions are closer to being right.

Overall.

2013 was just a great year. I feel so happy to be able to look back and say that.

The main negative from last year was that I didn’t maintain some friendships as well as I think I could have. In 2014, I’m going to put some effort into changing this.

Besides that, I hope to keep spending quality time with family, and visit my brother a bit more in LA. And, I plan to just keep chugging away at work. I have learned so much about startups in this last year that I know I need to keep at it. Who knows how much there is to learn in 2014?

Looking forward to an awesome 2014. I have the feeling that 2014 will be an epic year.

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