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2015 Annual Review: Looking Forward to 2016 (Ready or Not!)

LookingForward1 And…. once more, with feeling! Today’s post is all about the future.

In keeping with this unusual year, the format for this post is a bit different than I’ve done before. I noticed that I was feeling some resistance in writing it, so I finally decided to just sit down and start, without worrying about trying to adhere to a specific style.

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Much of the year feels like it's been spent in a time vortex of some kind. If I could, I’d put the whole year on rewind and go back to January.

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2015 Annual Review: 240,000 Miles of Travel (But to Only 11 Countries!)

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2015, along with a few lessons and comments.

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Here’s where I went in 2015 (preview: zzzz).

Hong Kong (x3), South Korea, South Africa, Qatar (x3), France, UK, Australia (YESSSS x2), United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Germany, Canada, and ... it looks like that’s it
You guys, now that I’m retired from going to every country, I think I’m going to stop writing a travel roundup every December. This list is boring. No big tour, no new countries, and mostly I went to the same places over and over.

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2015 Annual Review: Lessons in Writing and Other Independent Work

I spend as much time as possible working on things I believe in. It’s not all out of compulsion—it’s also because I’m motivated to create and share. I’m happiest when I’m making progress on projects that make a difference in the world, or at least the corner of the world in which I have influence.

This post provides a review and critique of my overall work in 2015.

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For years now, I’ve been saying that I want to become more specific and intentional. The problem is that I’m fairly good at a number of things. I know how to decipher and deconstruct successful solutions in several different fields and areas.

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2015 Annual Review: Lessons in Life, Success, and Loss

363846688_2270694504_z Every year I set aside a long block of time, typically the better part of a week, to look back at the year that’s ending and look ahead to the next.

And so we begin the 2015 Annual Review.

I try to live an active life and pursue a lot of different challenges and adventures. Pretty much every time I begin the review, I think, “What a crazy year it’s been!"

In the case of 2015, I began the year fairly well, had the worst thing imaginable happen in the middle, and then managed to close out on a relative high note.

As I sat down to write these notes, I have to confess that I wasn’t feeling super excited. My mind continued to drift toward the negative emotions, revisiting the things that have made me sad. As usual, though, I discovered that there were several good things from the year that I’d completely forgotten about.

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2015 Annual Review Is Here! This Updated Free Tool Will Help You Plan Your Entire Next Year

Over the past eight nine years, nothing has helped me to accomplish big goals and stay on track more than a single exercise I complete each December: the Annual Review.

Tomorrow I’ll publish a long post with my successes, failures (which are always more interesting), and lessons learned from 2015. This will probably be my most personal review year ever, for a variety of reasons, and I promise to share much of it with you through the blog.

But Wait, You Too!

My favorite part about the review is that it brings a degree of order to my multi-faceted life and career, which consists of many different projects and roles. My second favorite part is seeing what everyone else comes up with. Over the years, many of our readers have conducted their own Annual Reviews, frequently sharing their lessons with others on their blogs or in the comments or just with friends and families.

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Annual Review 2014: A Big Batch of Reader Reports Is In!

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Hey everyone! Thanks as always to all who read the blog and all who participate in some fashion. The December 2014 Annual Review was a long one. I spent 6,000+ words compiling a ton of lessons from the year, as well as plans for 2015. You can catch up on some of the posts here:

Reader Reviews: What Did You Have to Say?

We've gathered together a collection of awesome annual reviews from our community. First up, check out this email I received from a high school student, Evan Twarog:

Hi Chris, At the start of 2014, I did a review, and because of it, it was by far the most successful year of my life. Writing it as a junior in high school, I knew that 2014 was the year for me to create a foundation for my future success. Some of the highlights of the year include:

  • *Traveling to El Salvador for a service project through Interact
  • *Winning the Rotary Global Essay Competition and traveling to India for a week
  • *Interning as a high school student at CHA Consulting, a civil engineering firm
  • *Racing on the Elm City Velo Cycling Racing team as its only junior racer
  • *Receiving an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy
I love this report. Well done, Evan!

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2014 Annual Review: Travel Roundup

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2014, along with a few lessons and comments. You’re welcome to share your itineraries or lessons. Next week, our cats and biased judges will award a $100 gift card from Powell’s for the best overall comment throughout the series. Previous…

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Looking Back on 2016 (All in One Post!)

I mentioned that I felt some resistance to this year’s review, so I ended up doing it differently. Not surprisingly, some things will be different about my recap process as well.

The biggest difference is that I’m pretty much entirely focused on the future at this point. I call it the review, but it’s much more of a forward-looking, goal-setting practice. I typically spend one day looking back and the rest planning ahead.

This time I didn’t even look back at all. It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized I had spent the time only looking forward and working on my new project (more on that in a bit).

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Make Two Blockbusters for Every Arthouse Film

Blockbuster Consider a successful Hollywood actor. This actor likes to make independent, arthouse films. These films have special meaning to the actor, and he or she believes in them enough to give up a big paycheck to do them.

But this Hollywood actor also makes commercial, popular work. The actor has the prized opportunity to perform a major role in summer blockbusters, the kind of films that rarely win at the Oscars but regularly boost the actor’s stature, not to mention their bank account.

The clash of preferences and opportunities raises numerous questions—most of which miss the point.

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Coming Next Week: 25% Off All Unconventional Guides

Hey everyone, happy fast-approaching holidays!

The season is barreling toward us and regardless of how you celebrate, I hope your holidays will be filled with spiked eggnog and loved ones. Over here, I'm planning an early start to this year's Annual Review.

But first—next week, starting on Wednesday the 25th, we'll be kicking off the only sale we do every year at Unconventional Guides. There's only one! And it happens very soon.

Our Annual Holiday Sale: This Time It's 25% Off!

Important: don't buy anything from Unconventional Guides this weekend. Wait until next Wednesday and you can save a lot.

This year we'll be offering 25% on everything in the Unconventional Guides store. Twenty-five percent, with no exceptions.*

This discount applies to combo packs as well—which is pretty great because they already sell at a discount, so you can save even more.

*Really, no exceptions.

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One Log Cabin and 800 Yoga Mats: Some Unconventional Tax Deductions from My Life in 2014


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My tax return is complicated for a lot of reasons. First, I run several different businesses which all have their own set of accounting. WDS, our annual gathering, has its own legal structure, including a foundation that is completely separate from all my other projects. Last year we started an all-new event that also has its own legal structure.

So yeah, it’s complicated. It takes about 20 hours just to prepare all the info for my accountant, and as with most tax-prep tasks, it’s not usually a fun process. But I do enjoy seeing some of the charges on my statements from the previous year. They remind me of the crazy life I have, and the many fun experiences that I'm fortunate to participate in.

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