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2015 Life Stats

The alternative to New Years Resolutions.

Let’s face it—we’re not good with resolutions. We all have stared down the proverbial treadmill around mid-February and said, “Maybe next year.” Resolutions don’t make for good brain science. It sets a big, seemingly insurmountable new goal for the whole year in front of the resolution maker, and the odds are not in his or her favor to succeed.

So back in 2014, I decided to do something different. What if instead of setting a litany of big goals for the new year, I simple picked 10 or so different behaviors (running, swimming, reading) and I tracked how much I did those things in a year?

(For nostalgia, see 2014 results here.)

It’s swapping too-big-to-win goals for measurable-micro-success behavior tracking. And so Life Stats was born.

So now that we've arrived at the end of the year, it’s time to see what Life Stats recorded for 2015.

1. Miles Ran – 276 Miles

It’s not as much as 2014 when I (unsuccessfully) trained for a half marathon, but considering I spent the first couple months of the year rebuilding my lung capacity from a semester in China—polluted air can sideline your cardio game for a little while—this isn’t too bad. I ran approximately the distance from Tulsa to Dallas.

2. Books Read – 56 Books

I could do a whole separate blog post (and probably will) on the books I read this year. 15,012 pages read. That’s 42 pages of pleasure reading per day. Assuming it took me 60 seconds/page, I spent 250.2 hours of 2015 reading. 2.85% of all the time I had in 2015, waking and sleeping, was spent reading.

Reading a book. In Chinese. In a tree.

3. Blog Posts – 29 Posts

Call it a need to write and express, call it a need for attention, but blogging has been my jam. This year has read more or less like a travelogue, but what can I say? I'm a stereotypical nomadic Millennial.

4. Blog's Weekly Traffic High – 130 people

And I suppose people like to read it too.

Shout out to my readers in Vietnam and India, y'all the real MVPs.
5. Chinese Hours – 255 Hours

2015 may be a big year for reading, but I spent 4 hours more reading, speaking, practicing, writing, daydreaming, and creeping on people speaking Chinese than I spent in books. I sang Mandarin pop songs to Communist officials and had serious conversations about the economic and cultural difference of Mainland and Taiwan with friends—but I still botch it ordering food sometimes. (服务员:“啊...您说了红烧牛肉还是红小牛肉?") Oh well. 学懂中文不是容易的事。

Best gift I got for Christmas: Mandarin Chinese version of
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
6. Meals Cooked – 244 Meals
If there is one habit that I came in strong with in 2015, it was cooking. From January to June, I could go two or three weeks without eating out at a restaurant. I cooked three meals a day, and you better believe my packed fried rice boxes were the best around the lunch table.

But then I graduated, lived life in limbo during job training in Providence for a month, and moved to Boulder where I live in an international community house, all meals provided. I don’t think I’ve cooked since July.

7. New Recipes – 8 Learned

Watch this terrible video I made for a Chinese class about how I cook. Shout out to Cameron Smith for not laughing at me too much for this. Don't mind my tones, they're also pretty terrible.

8. 10-Minute Ab Workouts – 12

…Yeah we’re still working on that one.

9. Places Traveled – 21

New York City (2x), Miami, Dallas, Turner Falls, Charlotte, Boulder, Branson, Providence, Lincoln Wood State Park, Boston, Chicago, Nederland, Denver (15x), Crooked Creek Ranch, Phoenix (3x), Omaha, Lincoln, Tulsa (2x), Norman, Siloam Springs. I’ve become a master of packing bags last minute and waiting in bus stops at 3am.

I'll get you one day, Alaska.
10. Planes Ridden – 35

I remember the first time I rode a plane. I was 17, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and then I didn’t get a chance to do it again for another four years. Now I’m 23, and I still think flying is the coolest thing ever. As long as you don’t fly Spirit Airlines. And don’t mind waiting at bus stops.

Mom texts: "Is your plane still flying? Weather looks bad."
I text: "Nah, should be good."
11. Things Built – 6

This is a not-every-weekend behavior for me, but every once in awhile I take a stab at building something. In the spring for an entrepreneurship class, I spent 2 months building clunky prototypes of foam inserts to make any rental ski boot fit your foot (surprisingly Oklahoma investors didn’t bite. How bizarre, right?). The things I build always come out a little shoddy looking, but I definitely enjoy looking at that shoddy thing and saying, “Yep. I made you.”

12. Chinese Friends Made – 28 Friends

Now some people might take offense to this. One could say, “Hey Nathan, why are you going out of your way to make friends with Chinese people? Are you just trying to become friends with them so you can learn about Chinese things?”

Short Answer: Yes

Long Answer: This has been the year of making a lot of international friends. I live in an international house—there are events every other Friday that pull 50 to 150 foreigners from the Boulder community. It’s fun, and you better believe I get pumped when I meet a Chinese person my age. Even if I never see them again, 认识您很高兴!

13. Korean Hours – 24.5 Hours

I tried learning Korean late this year. It resulted in learning half the alphabet and watching half a Korean drama series. Better luck next year.

14. Trees Climbed – 12 Trees

This was another late-add stat. I never climbed trees growing up, but there aren’t a lot of big trees in public places in Oklahoma. Then I went to Providence for five weeks, and I realized, “There are some great looking trees on this campus…I want to climb them.”

I spent the better part of this fall hiking the foothills of Colorado, and when I found good trees, I climbed them. Call me a child, but I’ve never felt more like a man than when I’m 30 feet off the ground with no safety gear.

15. Workshops Taught – 56 Workshops

This has also been the year of public speaking—and a big part of that has been my job. I’ve spoken in front of about 1,700 people this year, and about 75 percent of those have been high school students.

I like public speaking, and as I get older I enjoy getting a little edgier with my topics (see video for the most fun public speaking gig I had this year). So it’s fun going into high schools to talk to students about their futures and challenge them to view their life in a different way.

Another Year Closes
2015 was a year full of travel, internationals, startups, Asian stuff, graduations, transitions, hiking, tree climbing, running, reading, writing, cooking, waking up at 3am, and entering adult life. It's time to start up the clock and set new stats to track for 2016; but looking back, I think 2015 is one for the record books. I had my fair share of challenges, rough nights, tough ordeals and disappointments. But when I look at the year's happenings in aggregation, this is a life I am blessed by God to have. No way something like this could all happen randomly. I'm going to enjoy this season while I have it.
2015 was a blast. Let's do it all again next year, shall we?
Happy New Years Eve, everyone.
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