Last year, I started the practice of doing an Annual Review – a personal assessment of the past year to see what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be improved in the ways of health, happiness, and productivity. First let me say, “Holy fuck!” It’s been a year?!” Cuh-razy. Time is flying faster than a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor! (Which are fast, according to Wikipedia.)
Once I set my goals a year ago, I was supposed to be checking in on my plan periodically so I could get a sense of where I was at. I kept with it the first few months of 2011, but it quickly fell to the wayside as I got busier with work. Which makes the results all the more fascinating.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Step 1: Review the Previous Year
I entered 2011 with a lot of optimism and momentum. Here was my overall goal:
My theme and purpose for 2011: Self-Sufficiency, Productivity, and Overall Awesomeness. I want to become a self-sustained, self-reliant big boy again, that produces projects with measurable results, while constantly experiencing new things, working on myself, and inspiring others to do the same. In short, I want to be able to say at the end of the year, “This was far and away the best year of my fucking life. Oh, and less potty mouth.”
I can without a doubt say that 2010 was indeed “far and away the best year of my fucking life.” I grew more in 2011 than ever before, made more progress in my career, and learned more about myself and what I want from life, all while constantly striving for improvement, and seeing others around me do the same. So, mission motherfucking accomplished! (Potty mouth aside, which as you can tell, I’ve scrapped eliminating as a goal.)
Of course 2011 was far from perfect, but I feel like I’m on the right path, and one of my many epiphanies this year has been that the path is crucial. Without a definitive life goal, we are just floating aimlessly, throwing darts at nothing, cliché cliché cliché boom. Building on the life purpose that I discovered last year, I’ve continued to distill down my path, and in the immediate future for me it is: Creating experiences through live stage shows, events, and productions that inspire and enchant others. And likewise to inspire others through daily interactions as well. This year I discovered how much I love to talk, and will jabber it up with just about anyone that will listen to me. You’ve been warned.
My other goals and how they fared:
As far as becoming a “self-sustained, self reliant big boy” well, I suppose my progress depends on the measure. I still live in a house owned by my parents. But part of being a big boy has been exercising patience in an effort to get out of debt first. So, close but not perfect.
Goal – Career:
I’d love to continue getting work as a freelance producer, and to the extent that it happens organically I will gladly take it. But I need a full-time job STAT. Ideally it will be in the world of comedy, writing, television, or video production. But for the first time in a long time, I am open to taking a job that might not be directly in my wheelhouse (read: Paper or plastic, M’am?), so long as I am able to devote all my extra time to my other creative pursuits. In the longer term, my goal is to grow this site and the group Immaculata programs, while building my creative portfolio for bigger writing and production opportunities.
How I fared: Nailed it! I got myself a full-time job last January as Manager and Artistic Director of The Lab, a comedy theater in Hollywood. It’s a job that has been challenging at times, but it’s without a doubt the best opportunity I’ve ever been given, and I feel I’ve maximized sufficiently.
Goal – Immaculata:
I’d like to hold at least 6 group Immaculatas, one every other month, in 2011, while steadily growing the number of participants, the worldwide reach, the amount of content and overall readership of this blog.
How I fared: Once my job at The Lab started, Immaculata took a back seat and the time to organize and prep for big group Immaculatas dwindled. However, the organic growth of the group on Facebook has been amazing. I have no regrets about the slower development of the concept and the community around it. And a lot of people ultimately did end up participating in group plans to set creative and health goals. It’ll take off when it takes off, and if it simply continues to serve as a small but thriving group of artists aiming to inspire each other, I’ll be happy.
Goal – Writing:
I want to get good at it. To that end, I am committed to writing at least two hours every single day. The output I am aiming for: At least 50 blog articles on this site, two TV pilots, an outline for a book (yep, an Immaculata book, bitches!), and other creative writing as I see fit.
How I fared: Not even close. That in mind, I wrote several live stage shows, several new songs, some new character pieces, some short stories, a couple speeches, and probably a few things I’m not remembering. And there were a handful of blog entries on the site as well.
I want to give back a lot this year. I aim to volunteer at least 10 hours every month, and aim to raise at least 10,000 dollars for various charity projects.
How I fared: It took almost a full year, but my one notable charitable contribution has been the Immaculatize CAN-endar. And I am officially a member of Team Big Acccomplishment Squad, a fund-raising effort to support Vanessa Ragland’s mission to become LLS Woman of the Year.
Goal – Meditation:
By the end of next year I want to be able to close my eyes and fly like a bird, scale mountains, and journey to the center of the Universe. Or you know, be more relaxed, or whatever. I aim to continue in my pursuit of overall happiness, focusing on gratitude and not on my chattering brain. I want to keep exploring all faiths and spiritualities, and really put by Religious Studies degree to work. I’d like to do a 10 day meditation retreat this year. “Nirvana by Next New Years” will be mantra. But not really.
How I fared: NOPE! Carving out the time and patience continues to be a struggle, however, I will say that the roughly 25 times I sat down to do it were always effectively relaxing.
Goal – Health:
I want to get into the best shape of my life. Six pack abs n’ shit. (How weird will that be?!) I want to run one marathon this year. I will try to surf at least once. I will experiment this year with a Vegan Diet, a Raw Food Diet, and a Macrobiotic diet. Probably others. Something new each month to find what I like the best.
How I fared: I did NOT get six pack abs n’ shit. Though, at one point, probably around September I was in the best shape of the last 10 years. I continue to struggle with yo-yo dieting and fitness, all-or-nothing style, but I would say I was on the positive side of it moreso than the negative. That said, I’m looking forward to a much-needed 30 day cleanse to start 2012. I did not run a marathon, and have no regrets as my knees would probably explode. I didn’t surf, and find it funny that it was even a goal a year ago. It would certainly be nice, but it’s not a priority. I didn’t experiment with Vegan, Raw Food, or Macrobiotic diets, but I did effectively cut out sugar for extended time frames and it’s insane how much more energy I had in those periods, and how quickly I lost weight.
Goal – Creative:
An Immaculata podcast is in development. I’d like to produce at least 20 podcasts by end of 2011. I will continue working on The Long Shot, and grow the listenership. I will try to produce at least one live show a month, be it for Long Shot, Immaculata, or otherwise. 10 by end of the year. I want to read 30 books this year and watch 100 films
How I fared: Got close! I have pages of notes and ideas and hours of rudimentary recordings, which is certainly a start, and I spent lots of time planning. But next step is to press record and start interviewing people, and that’ll be that.
Goal – Other:
I want to have at least one new/crazy experience a week. In other words, I want to do at least one thing each week that 2010 Jamie would be too scared, or more likely too lazy to do. A list is forthcoming. It’s important to me that I always be engaged in some sort of personal development, so each month will have new goals, new themes, and new exciting experiences.
How I fared: I don’t know that I had 52 new or crazy experiences this past year. But I did go sailing once. And I took my shirt off to go swimming a couple times. IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE!
So, what went well in 2011:
–My job. I took an underused room attached to a Hollywood comedy club and used it to build a community and create experiences for other people. This might sound a little grand, and maybe it is. But I couldn’t be prouder of how I’ve transformed (with the help of others that I’ve brought in and have met along the way) a small theater into a place that people know about, where relationships have been built, and people are putting their all into making great art. My year here has been filled with amazing and frustrating experiences, but I’ve never grown more, or gained more confidence from a job. Likewise, it has given some much-needed validation that sticking with my path in comedy these past ten years was, despite the difficulties and detractors, the right move. I feel I’m just getting started, and I’m excited for what’s being built and what’s next.
–The Spanglers! This year I fell in love with a creative project more than any other I’ve done. The Spanglers has been the most rewarding creative outlet, because it’s based in pure fun, and the intent behind it is just love and realness. We’ve created characters that we can put ourselves into, as well as make completely and utterly ridiculous. Stand-up has had it’s ups and downs, and I wouldn’t rule out doing more of it in the future, but The Spanglers doesn’t feel forced. It’s just fun, and whether I get paid for it or not it’s something I love doing and hope to continue building into the next year.
–The Long Shot (Podcast). My weeklyish podcast with comedians Eddie Pepitone, Sean Conroy, and Amber Kenny continued to grow steadily, building us a nice fan base, while affording me the opportunity to continue to meet some of my favorite comedians including Patton Oswalt, Tim Meadows, and Janeane Garafolo just to name a few. I also felt my on-air contribution to the show generally improved as I got more comfortable throughout the year, and began to understand my role in the context of the show better.
–The Immaculatize Group and Can-Endar. It wasn’t the growth I was shooting for at the beginning of last year, but I couldn’t be more proud of what Immaculata has come to be. What started as a 30 day plan to get healthy has simply become a group of creative people aiming to keep each other motivated through good times and bad. I still have high hopes that the concept and output will grow, especially once a podcast and more frequent content is created, but in the meantime just watching people from around the globe achieving goals and getting inspiration from each other is good for me. And the 2012 CAN-endar to support LLS is to me an amazing achievement that came directly as a result of the group. LOVE IT!
–I discovered what art was. It came from the pages of Linchpin by Seth Godin, who describes art as “A gift you give someome else to change them.” It completely changed my relationship with my job and everything I do and want to put out to the world, from live shows and videos to just how I interact with other people on a daily basis. I no longer want to put anything out to the world that isn’t created with passion and with the intent of entertaining, inspiring, enchanting, or empowering others.
–I learned that doing is everything. Not to say I embody it as often as I should, but the simple notion that doing is really the only choice to making progress has changed me considerably. Planning ahead can be helpful, but it’s no substitute for just taking action and getting something done. When I get into little funks, the first thing I need to ask myself is “What am I doing?” and chances are it’s nothing, and that’s the problem.
–I learned that the end result is irrelevant. Doing a project is about the process, and looking back at my career thus far everything has only served as a stepping stone. I imagine it’ll be the same looking forward. I certainly have goals: to have my own venue, production company, and success as a writer and performer, but I am open to where the path takes me. Again, it’s just taking action and letting things organically develop.
–I learned that I feed off the energy of other people. Or put another way, I am my own worst enemy. It’s in the early parts of the day, the hours spent doing nothing before work, and in the later parts of the day, flitting around online before bedtime, that I tend to suffer my lows. I get in my head, I overthink things, and it becomes a vicious cycle of self loathing that’s hard to break. BUT! As soon as I start interacting with others, be it co-workers or friends, or collaborators, or artists doing things at The Lab, I instantly get back into a positive place. I know that getting pumped really only requires talking to the positive people in my life.
–I figured out that caring what other people think is stupid. It’s been the bane of my existence, for like, ever. And I am FAR from completely over it. But the little voice in my head that holds me back from doing or saying things, the voice that tells me that what I’m doing might not be “cool,” well the little bastard is at least met with a challenge now. The truth is people WILL judge me, because that’s just what humans do. And it’s part and parcel when what you do on a daily basis is presented in front of other people. Some will like it, some will hate it, and that’s fine. As long as I am on the path, and as long as I know I put my all into whatever I am putting out there, I am comfortable if some people just aren’t into it. .
What did NOT go well in 2010?
–Health (diet and exercise) was kind of a slippery slope. Overall I did great, at one point being in the best shape I’ve been in in maybe 10 years. But moderation continues to be a struggle, as I’m either on the treadmill and hiking and cutting out sugar for 30 days straight, or not lifting a finger and eating like shit and drinking a lot of whiskey for 30 days straight.
–Continued struggles with focus. I got a lot done in 2011, so maybe I am just nitpicking at this point. But I know myself and know I am capable of more, so the aimless hours spent on Facebook eat at me. I am the worst multi-tasker, and I know that it takes some work, but I am capable of focusing and seeing things through to completion, so I just need to do that, ya know, more.
Step 2: Outline Goals and Overall Focus for Next Year
My theme and purpose for the upcoming year: Continuing To Build and Taking Shit To The Next Level. Like last year I aim to become self-sustained, insofar as having my own place to live. I have no doubts that’s going to happen soon. But more important that that, I just want to continue building on all I’ve learned to create a brand around enchantment and fun, though various media, while inspiring others to be productive and happy as well.
Last year I vowed to make less classic rock references in my blogging, so in that spirit I am going to name 2012 “The Year of The Firestarter” which is a 90’s big beat electronica reference, and likely the only Prodigy mention ever made in an Annual Review. So I’m pretty stoked on that.
I am continuing to build the community and the caliber of production and talent at The Lab, but I am also open to and looking for opportunities to build my own venue. So whether I am here for another year, or building somewhere else remains to be seen. But in either case, the goal is to be at the helm of a venue that is getting recognition for bringing innovative, fun, multimedia experiences to Los Angeles. I also want to keep building the overall brand through podcasting, video production, and event producing, with the idea of bringing what’s being built here to the rest of the world through media and touring.
In short, by the end of 2012 I want an empire to be created. A positive empire. It can be a small, positive empire, but an empire nonetheless. Fuck it.
My goal for Immaculata is simple this year. Reach more people through: A.) A podcast and B.) More regular blogging. By the end of the year I’d like the podcast to be weekly. And I’d like to blog at least once a week. This should help expand the audience, which will grow the Facebook group, with the net result of more people being inspired and inspiring each other. I have a feeling that once this happens other bigger and more exciting things will start to happen as well, but in the meantime I think this is a reasonable goal.
To start the year, my focus is on selling CAN-endars, and fulfilling my role as a member of Team Big Accomplishment Squad to help raise thousands and thousands of dollars for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In addition, I am making charity work an important part of the community I am building at the theater. And my hope is that in blogging more and doing a podcast I can help inspire others to be productive and happier.
Meditation! Meditation! Meditation! Instead of setting lofty goals, this year my only goal is to meditate at least 3 minutes every single day. That’s it. And if it grows it grows. And it will probably grow. But that will take the pressure off, while still keeping me motivated to take action on it.
Six pack abs would be nice. And as soon as I have the money I’ll get a damn trainer. I will! I know it! But until that happens, I am simplifying: 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week. Ideally it’s 30 minutes of high impact cardio or playing sports, but if it comes down to a 30 minute walk in the morning or after work or on my lunch break, I am comfortable with that. Exercise is key to my happiness and productivity, I know this much now, so no more of these month long streaks of phoning it in.
30 minutes a day, easy peasy.
More than ever, creative goals blur the line with my professional goals, which I couldn’t be more thankful for. So in addition to building the theater and producing and co-producing shows, I will add: Write one musical and get The Spanglers on Conan. Not sure how that’ll be done, but there, it’s out there now. If you know or work for Conan… email me.
Step 3: Make Decisions in Support of the Goals and Focus
My only decision this year is to keep as positive as possible, and to always be doing something. I know as long as I am taking action, I am good to go. I’ve got a lot of goals, and a lot I want to accomplish and I want to change the damn world, so in 2012 I am going ALL IN.
So what about you? Please feel free to share you Annual Review here as well, or of course as always, join us in the Facebook Group where we’re always working to inspire others. And posting dumb videos.