Woodworking as an activity, job, lifestyle, or addiction, is not unlike other things in this world. If you want to get better at something, you need to work hard, practice, and most of all flex.
Now I'm not talking about Arnold over here. I don't think we need to add full length mirrors in our shops, dress in silk underwear and rub oil on our bodies, but we need to flex our skills.
Flexing your skills doesn't have to be a big thing, you don't have to build a high boy or start a project with cutting down a tree, but I guess you can if you really want to. Maybe you take a woodworking class somewhere and learn something new. Or, perhaps you try out a technique that you have always wanted to learn. Don't worry about failing at it. Much learning comes from failure. I failed just the other day trying to make a spatula from Purpleheart, after 30 min the thing just split in half. But I learned something, I tried, and I moved on.
Over the past holiday season I didn't get a ton of time in the shop, but I wanted to do something, so I started making spoons and stuff. Now, I'm not a spoon carver. I don't own any special knifes. But, I do own a couple carving gouges and a spokeshave. With a little bit of time I managed to make several spoons and spatulas for myself(my wife) and for future gifts.
The best part of all is that I flexed. I did something that I had not done before, I learned some things, and I am sure I can take that information with me into future projects. I don't really plan of becoming a professional spoon maker. But, when I need a quick house warming gift, I know I can run out to the shop and come back with something great made from scrap wood.
SO, in this new year I hope you all take time to flex a little bit. Try something new or just take some time to learn a new skill. The worst thing that can happen is you will fail, and without failure you will never learn.