Welcome to 2015

Yes, I am aware that it’s almost July.

It’s six months into 2015, and I haven’t yet finished up 2014. I debated not mentioning that, just starting to talk about what we’ve been doing recently and glossing over the fact that I promised to give you all an update at the end of each month on how my goals for 2014 were doing.

That’s not to say I haven’t thought about it. I got as far as considering how my 2014 had gone, and thinking about my goals. I just haven’t told you about it.

I almost decided it wasn’t worth it, it was too late to talk about last year. After all, it’s six months later. Nobody cares any more, right?

But a while ago I had a conversation with someone who was explaining a point of view that they had come across which they didn’t understand.

(Yes, that sentence was intentionally convoluted. I’m trying to make it hard to identify the people involved.)

It was this:

Either it’s too early to tell if your strategy works, or it’s too late to do anything about it. So why worry?

Six months into 2015 is too late to change 2014, true, but I can still learn from it. And although I have thought about it, if putting it into public words helps even one other person it will be worth it.

So here’s my summary of 2014, what I planned, what I did, and what I’ve learnt.

Work

My plan for 2014 was to qualify as an actuary. I started the year with 2 exams to go, and I wanted to pass both and complete the paperwork to qualify.

I actually only passed one exam, despite two attempts at the second one.

On the plus side, my grade did improve in the second sitting, but not enough.

I also did a lot of the paperwork. It’s not completely ready to go but it’s a lot closer than it was.

So, progress, but also failure.

I feel incredibly frustrated by this, obviously. I put a lot if effort in and it makes me wonder if I actually deserve to qualify. But I intend to persevere, and I hope that I will pass next year.

I thought I needed more question practice, and to that end I arranged for someone to mark some questions for me. That gave some good feedback on where precisely I needed to improve.

I sat the exam again in April, and the results are out in two weeks time. I honestly have no idea how it went, so I guess we’ll wait and see.

I do have some added incentive though. I was sort-of-promoted at the start of the year. Namely, I was interviewed for a qualified actuary position, and given the job (but not the title) with the understanding that if I pass the final exam within the next 18 months I get an automatic “proper” promotion. I’ve even been given a minion (erm… I mean “direct report”) to look after.

What have I learnt? Sometimes plans don’t get accomplished, and that’s frustrating, but I shouldn’t give up, because if I persevere the rewards could be great.

Family

My family situation hasn’t really changed, which was the plan. I still spend time with my husband and cats, although it seems to go in spates – some weeks I have loads of time and some weeks I barely see him.

Jasper is the bestest at being cute and floppy.
Jasper is the bestest at being cute and floppy.

We dallied briefly with buying a house, but that didn’t go well. We continue to look.

I think my learning from this goal is that sometimes maintaining the status quo is exactly what is needed. And sometimes it’s hard. It requires actual effort sometimes.

Guiding

This is the section which I suspect most of my readers actually care about.

What did I plan? To deliver “good guiding”. I used the “Good Guiding Is…” resource to help me define it.

“Good Guiding is” gives advice in ten areas:

My goal was to provide at least two things from each category.

Sometimes it's important to just sit and chat.
Sometimes it’s important to just sit and chat.

I think I achieved it. Mostly due to good teamwork. Especially things like residential opportunities, which were almost entirely planned and executed by other people. Notably the Big Brownie Birthday team, who did a fab job with the sleepover and camp.

I think, in retrospect, I should have made it more challenging.  With two units (three at the end of the year) it’s very hard not to meet this challenge, especially with the number of joint and large-scale events that were available last year.

What did I learn?  I would say “teamwork is key”, but I already knew that.

I think I learnt that we do so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  Actually just keeping track of all the opportunities that we provide made me realise how many of them there are.

Shorinji Kempo

My goal was to learn the techniques on my next syllabus.  I have to admit, I don’t think I really did this at all.  I had planned to do the hard ones after the exams in April, but then I had to study again and it all just got forgotten.

20140722-162626-59186338.jpg

Learning point: Sometimes plans can be abandoned, and that’s ok.  Studying was more important than some self-imposed goal with no real deadline.

Blogging

I was aiming for three posts a week.  Well, it started out being fine.  You’ll have noticed that towards the end of the year it slipped a little (or a lot).  I posted 112 times total over the year, which averages at one every 3.25 days, or 2 a week, more or less.  So not bad, considering I do this for fun.

I did have my best blogging day ever in 2014 – apparently it was May 13th, and I had 148 visitors that day.  I’m not sure why, I didn’t post anything that day, and I hadn’t been writing about anything particularly controversial…

Reading

I was aiming for 52 books read.  I achieved precisely 52.  Some of the later ones were quite childish, but some were in Esperanto so it probably balances out.

Conclusion and Future Plans

I had a reasonable year, all told.  Guiding, of course took up a lot of my time.  Which is good, because it’s one of the best parts of my life.

Not passing that last exam was frustrating, but I think I learnt from the experience, so it can’t be considered a complete failure.

For the future, I think my plans come down to one word:

Efficiency.

The first few months of this year I’ve been trying to streamline my admin processes.  It sounds ridiculous, but when you think that I now have three Guiding unit’s accounts, plus the Division’s accounts, plus one unit where I have to plan almost everything and two units which I do a share of the organisation, AND I still work full time, it starts to make more sense.

I want more time to spend on the fun parts, so I need to make the duller parts shrink slightly.  It’s going reasonably, but I think there are still improvements possible.

Blogging-wise, I’ll spend the summer catching you up on anything interesting we’ve done recently (and we have done lots!), so hopefully by the time we get to Summer Camp in late August I can blog in real-time.

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2 thoughts on “Welcome to 2015

  1. Yay, you’re back! I’ve been wondering what happened to you, and was a little bit concerned but thought it would be stalkerish to comment on your blog going “oy, everything okay?” to someone I don’t even know 🙂
    But yay!

    1. Ha, I thought that’s one of the points of the Internet, stalking people?

      It’s good to know someone is interested enough to care if I stop talking. I’m fine, I was just busy, then didn’t really know how to start again after such a long break, and we’ve done so much catching up felt like a chore. You know how it goes.

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