This is my second Christmas season in the US and I catch myself thinking that I really like celebrating Christmas first and the New Year second. In Ukraine, where the Orthodox church is still using the old Julian calendar for religious holidays, Christmas is celebrated after the New Year on January 7th. And I always felt that Christmas was under appreciated because of that.
It seems logical to take a break before the end of the year to thank God for all the blessings and get recharged by spending time with family and friends. And then, once the new year starts, jump into it head on, with new energy and enthusiasm. So as many people do here, I took a couple of days off between the two holidays. This gave me plenty of time to reflect on the year 2015 with all the good things that it brought, as well as set my goals for the coming year.
2015 was an amazing year in terms of lifestyle. California offers so many things to enjoy and my wife and I tried to take advantage of that at every possible opportunity. But the best part was that most of those experiences we could share in the company of our new good friends that we’ve made here in California.
Almost every weekend we went to the ocean, grabbing a cup of coffee with a croissant and enjoying it on a beach in Santa Cruz. Almost every weekend we went hiking to one of the nearby state and county parks. Big Basin, Castle Rock, El Corte de Madera, Nisene Marks, Wilder Ranch, Almaden Quicksilver, Angel Island, Lands End, Point Lobos. All these beautiful natural places are in an hour or less from where we live.
In addition to day hiking, several times we went overnight camping with a tent. The campground we liked the most was Manresa State Beach, where we saw the ocean from our tent and slept like babies lulled by the sound of waves.
On a few occasions we ventured a little further out of the Bay Area. There was a day trip to Sacramento where we visited Car History Museum and a weekend trip to Lassen National Park where we enjoyed the magnificent volcanic scenery. One winter weekend we went whale watching on a boat from Monterey. One summer weekend we went to the famous Lick Observatory where we could actually peak into those huge telescopes and see the stars and planets that are hundreds of light years away from the Earth.
But our favorite trips were, as always, southbound, where the water is warmer. ;-) In the spring we went to Paso Robles area with friends and visited marvelous Hearst Castle. In early fall my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in sunny San Diego.
Besides outdoors activities and local travels we attended many cultural events. I was lucky to be at the live show by another one of my “must-see-them-live-before-I-die” bands — U2. Then there were concerts by Ukrainian bands: an unforgettable performance by DakhaBrakha in Santa Cruz, and a soulful gig by Boombox in Redwood City. We also attended several events with the Ukrainian Bay Area community, including Easter Celebration in San Francisco and a Ukrainian Bonfire on the beach in Santa Cruz.
2015 was also great for me in terms of physical and intellectual development. I beat my record for the number of runs in a year, ran my first half-marathon, completed my first obstacle race, and best of all, got back to regularly playing soccer. I finally read the foundational book of economics “The Wealth of Nations” in its entirety. I also completed a couple of business-related courses on Coursera and iTunes U.
On the work front, 2015 was a fantastic year too. My company, GlobalLogic, continued grow nicely, further establishing its leadership position in the market of product development services. And I’m happy to have been able to contribute to that.
For the year 2016, I’ve set my goals in seven primary areas: 1) career; 2) financial; 3) physical; 4) intellectual; 5) family; 6) social; 7) spiritual. In each area, I wrote down 2-3 very specific goals. I’m not going to make the whole list public, but I’ll share a few excerpts so that you get the idea. For example, in physical area I commit to 100 runs of 8 km, 50 swims of 2 km, 50 gym attendances, 30 soccer games. In intellectual area I’m determined to read 5 books in Ukrainian, 5 books in English, and 1 book in Spanish. In financial area, I target specific dollar amounts of savings and net worth.
OK, now that the passing year is remembered and the goals for the new year are set, I’ll go and fit in one more run into this year and then it’ll be time to start preparing to the tomorrow’s celebration.
Happy New Year!