✱ The Best of 2014 / by Evan Troxel

Sapphire Pool, Yellowstone National Park
© Evan Troxel – All Rights Reserved

The year is winding down and I’m sifting through 5,000 photos getting ready to make the 2014 Troxelmar Family Slideshow. It’s a tradition that I’ve done the last 3 years and this will be the fourth installment. I already have over 300 images earmarked and I haven't even gotten into the videos yet... Wish me luck.

I get a little better at it each time, and it’s become something I look forward to doing the last few days of the year. The first couple of years were pretty stressful. Now I’m knee-deep picking photos and videos, putting them in order, applying transitions, adding music, adding titles and BAM! It’s going to be an epic viewing. We usually cook up some popcorn and watch it on the big screen TV on New Year's Day. This is going to be the best shoebox of photos ever in about 10 years when the kids are all grown up and moved out.

It’s time to reflect. Why? Lots of reasons, but really the biggest one is because it's a good time to reinforce to my brain that I'm making progress in my life. This past year was definitely a turning point for me. In a nutshell 2014 was the year I decided to overcome the biggest hurdle in my life in order to do some of the things I really want to do, which was to finally get my architectural license. Done.

The main reason I was able to accomplish that and so much more is that I set goals for myself in October of 2013 and I reviewed them monthly. I also decided to put off some majorly-cool things so that I could focus on this priority. The side benefit to that decision was that I had some very cool things to look forward to when I finally did finish. I kept reminding myself that I'd get to do some awesome stuff as long as I finished well.

Setting goals has been the most important thing I've done in recent years. I mean actually writing them down and saying them out loud. If I were to just have all these ideas bouncing around in my head there is no way I would ever be able to methodically chip away at them. I would be aimless. The second most important thing I've done is to continually check in with myself and track my progress. 

Starting this December, I set new goals in every part of my life for the upcoming year and I now review them weekly. This came out of a big brainstorming session, lots of coffee and my trusty Moleskin notebook. I set a weekly reminder to go off every Sunday so I would remember to do my weekly review, because otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Life just has a way of continuing on if I don't create proper reminders to pause and reflect.

Further, I'm using some tools like this one to help me focus on four main goals, and I'm tracking progress on them five days a week for 12 weeks. I've also been doing a lot more mind mapping lately, and I've found it to be an invaluable tool for visualizing my projects, organizing them, finding lots more clarity and answers. These tools help me really tune into what's working and what's not so I can make adjustments along the way to make sure I make it to the end.

My morning ritual

Since I started two years ago getting up at 5am to study, I've just continued doing so to chip away at my new goals. It's a great way to start each day and figure out what small thing I can do to make it one step closer. I am super excited for what's coming!

The purpose of all of my current goals is to set me up for an amazing 2016 and beyond. I've found that looking ahead three years is just about right. Of course things won't turn out the same as I've planned them, but the point is to just have some sort of direction. It's loose on purpose. I make lots of adjustments along the way. I’ll probably add some new things in and remove others completely.

Here are some things I'm proud to have shipped in 2014:

WORTHY POSTS ON MY PERSONAL WEBSITE in 2014:

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL STUFF in 2014:

  • I was promoted to Associate at HMC Architects.
  • I passed the last five exams to get my license to practice architecture. HOT DAMN!
  • I went canyoneering in Zion National Park. I lost both of my big toenails and could hardly walk afterward. It was very manly. (Photos coming soon)
  • Our family went on vacation to Yellowstone National Park. We drove over 3000 miles towing a travel trailer and had the time of our lives. I swear a gallery will be going up soon. There are some amazing shots.
  • I was named one of 25 architects you should follow on Twitter.
  • I was named one of 8 Independent Architects Taking the Lead on DI.net.
  • A school I designed won a 2014 Merit Award by the American Institute of Architects, Inland Chapter.
  • The kids and I made a video over a weekend about our adventures while my wife was out of town.

MOST POPULAR ON ARCHISPEAK (MY PODCAST) IN 2014:

Most popular on METHOD (MY DIGITAL TRAINING WEBSITE FOR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNERS) in 2014:

I’ve never been one to sit still. 

Regardless if you find these things awesome or lame, they are all huge for me. Progress is personal. I'm definitely not writing them as a comparison to you, so please don't read it that way. I think it's a good practice to evaluate our accomplishments yearly and memorialize them in our time capsules. This happens to be mine. 

So here's to a great 2015! It’s going to be even bigger. Stay tuned, stay curious, and never stop learning.