Fireworks explosions

Happy New Year 2016!

It’s New Years’ Eve for me, and already the new year for some. 2015 was a crazy year for me, I honestly can’t believe it’s already over. I pulled off a few things I wasn’t sure would happen this year, and I’m so thankful all of it. I want to take the time to recap on what’s happened in the last year, and finish this post off with some New Year’s resolutions!

As I type these words onto this blank page at 9:30pm on New Year’s Eve, I’m reminded of just how hard I’ve worked this past year. I’ve had to say “no” to a lot of things in order to keep my priorities straight, and staying home for New Year’s is only one among many sacrifices.

It’s not just me who has sacrificed either. My wife has had to put up with a lot less help from me around the house than usual. We also packed up and left our home town to accept my dad’s generous offer of having us move in with him. It’s a huge help financially, but it’s a big change too, especially for my wife who is used to being so close to her family both figuratively and literally. She’s also had to miss out on nights out with me because I have to focus on school.

Despite our short list of sacrifices, there are many things I’m proud of maintaining this past year too. We held together as a family even with all of the added stress, and uncertainty in our lives. Although my wife and I went out on a lot fewer dates together, we still managed to keep busy with our son – took him to festivals, tractor rides, petting zoos, trails, beaches, flee-markets, camping, fishing and took him to the movies (I couldn’t believe he sat through the whole film). Fishing with a 2 year old is a short lived experience, just so we’re clear. I thought the movies would be too – but he sat there like a pro.

How this blog got started.

When I lost my job in January of 2015, I started this blog. It looked way different then. I knew very little about making a website, but I threw myself into knowing what the long term benefits could be one day. Here’s a throw back to what this blog looked like almost one year ago:

Dan Fletcher Blog-Throwback
Dan Fletcher Blog-Throwback

This is from before I even had the blog page built. My plan was to call the website Fletcher Applications, and the blog was going to be secondary. I also had no idea how to select nice colors, and I didn’t have a plan for what the overall theme would be, so I just set static dimensions that looked good on my monitor when the web browser was snapped to the right side of my screen. That’s why the content and menu bar are all squished up against the side like that. Terrible…

But I had to start somewhere. Later, I ended up creating a nicer looking menu bar after learning some CSS, and I added a main blog page with 5 or 6 posts by February 2015. I have some secret pages buried in this web site, that none of you probably know about. It’s close to the state this blog was in before I started using WordPress.

I’ll give you the link so you can see what it use to look like, but it’s something I plan on removing completely for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), since it’s not good to have lose ends in a website like this, but for now here it is:

That link will take you to what the website looked like almost a year ago. Unfortunately you can’t see the home page, because that link takes you back to the main site. But you can get a feel for how far this blog has come, especially if you actually read any of those old posts…

From 0 to 1000

I remember writing sporadically for months never getting any views. It wasn’t until I switched to using WordPress that things started really happening on this blog, and even then it took months before my views ever reached more than a few dozen per month.

WordPress, however aloud me to focus more on the content of my blog, rather than the design. The design is something I still hope to work on and customize more to my personal taste, but the focus for 2015 really became posting consistently.

Posting consistantly for me meant 1-3 times a week. Sometimes I did more, sometimes I didn’t even make 1, but I worked really hard at keeping at it. Eventually my efforts started paying off, and in May, I jumped from 23 monthly views (probably from family), to 691! And now moving forward to 2016 I get on average 1000 views every month on my blog. Far cry from what much more successful blogs see even in just a day, but I’m amazed at how many readers I’ve gained over the last year.

It wasn’t easy keeping up with this – trying to do well in school, make time for my family, and I was searching hard for work too. Alas I found some temporary work doing some programming/consulting for Khan Academy, which I’m so thankful for and can’t even believe it’s on my resume!

School, family, work, and all of life’s curve balls take up a lot of time. But I figured writing is something I enjoy, and if I keep up with it, one day it will really pay off. Most days when I come here to write, I’m so tired and worn out, I just want to go to bed. But I tell myself, just one more task for the night. I’ll curse myself in the morning, but I’ll thank myself a couple years down the road.

What’s up for 2016?

So going onward into 2016 what are my goals? In regards to this not so shabby blog, I plan to spend some time on creating higher quality content. I have a lot in the works, that just needs some extra research and polishing. I really have to get around to following through and posting those. I can’t keep writing journals about myself and expect to go anywhere with this. I want to give you guys something valuable, something more than just a digital diary.

Quality posts take time, so I can’t keep them coming at the same frequency of my journals, but I want to make it my resolution to aim for 12 high quality posts by 2017. That’s one per month for one year. Seems a reasonable enough goal to me 🙂

On top of that, I’m going to be out of work again soon, which means I have to start getting my resume out there. I’ve been procrastinating on that one since I landed the gig at KA. I got so caught up in doing my best at school and work, I haven’t really dedicated any time to job searching.

Next resolution is health. This past year I haven’t taken very good care of myself. I drink way more coffee than I should in a day, and not enough water. I try to exercise everyday but the frequency and intensity is so far from what I used to do, it’s not really doing anything for me. I used to run 5-10 Km a day, every day, and sometimes more… I used to be on a soccer team, a dragon boat team, had a gym membership, did Muay Thai, paintball, airsoft, and roller bladed or biked everywhere instead of driving.

Most of the activities went away with the birth of my son, and around the same time I was working a midnight shift straight for about a year, so that threw me off too. But this past year I have done literally almost nothing. I think I went out for a jog like 10 times in the whole year. Maybe less…

I’m not overweight or anything like that (well… I got a little bit of a belly now 🙂 …Goodbye six pack, hope to see you again soon…), but I just feel out of shape. I’m lethargic all the time, my nerves feel fried, concentrating feels harder than it did a few years ago, I get winded when I’m playing outside with my boy – all sorts of bad things. So I have to take this one seriously in 2016. I have to get back into shape. Not as extreme as I was before my son, but I have to get to a point where I feel energetic again.

So my last resolution is to find an indoor track here in my new town where I can go for runs. Even if it’s only once a week or so. I’ll try to start out lite at first, until I get back into the routine of exercise.

How about you? What are your accomplishments in 2015? What do you have planed for the coming new year? Share your resolutions and stories – I want to here them!!! And I hope you guys have all had a great holiday season.



2 thoughts on “Happy New Year 2016!”

  1. Dan, thank you for sharing your story. Just for a short comment, the hardest thing for me is to say no to all the things I’ve used to do.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yes, I’ve had to say no to a lot of things I wish I could say yes to, but the sacrifice is worth the long term gains. One day, I’ll be able to do most of the things I used to do again, but I’ll also have more security for me an my family.

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