I’ve never done this before – written a personal annual review. Not formally anyway.
I’ve always dismissed it as self indulgent and a waste of time. I’m feeling unfocused and unaligned at the moment. So, having seen so many people I respect share their successes and failures, I’m going to give it a go.
I have no idea how to approach this. Live Your Legend has an Annual Review workbook but it would be too much to answer those questions here. Instead, I’ll summarise what went well, and what didn’t. My focus on 2016 and what I’ll be working on is peppered throughout.
1. What went well in 2015?
There are so many things that I enjoyed this year. Mainly related to travel.
Travel and Outdoor Activities
Learning a bit of Japanese, travelling and eating our way around Japan for a month was sensational.
Road tripping around the US and Canada is something I’d dreamed of for a long time, so making that come true was amazing. We had never camped before and started disastrously. Getting to grips with living outdoors was pretty satisfying. I didn’t get to do as much hiking as I had hoped because of the unseasonal weather, but did a few beautiful walks including the Half Dome in Yosemite.
In Norway, I got to spend a couple of weeks around the wester fjord region, and got to hike the Trolltunga and Besseggen Ridge. Again two hikes I had wanted to experience for a long time.
Over summer we spent two months travelling around Indonesia. This included some chill time and a lot of yoga.
I have tons of travel related highlights – witnessing the countless cherry blossom tress in Japan, savouring a million bowls of ramen and the best sushi I’ve ever had, driving over 8,500 miles through jaw dropping scenery, catching up with awesome north American friends, hiking through all the national parks we visited, wine and craft beer tasting, snorkelling with turtles on Gili Meno, trying out “different” meditation classes in Ubud, and finishing the year with Christmas in the Cotswolds.
The beginning of this year and the end of 2014 was pretty tough for Andrew and I. Fortunately, travelling forced us to spend months of fun times together, and I feel much happier in my relationship now. Making time to chill out together in Bali and at Christmas was key to that. Relaxing together is not something we’ve done in our 11 years together, but it’s something we both want to do more of in the future. Going forward I want to focus on being a better partner, better listener and making more of an effort in general.
Andrew also ended up in a local Indonesian hospital with a bleeding skull after walking into a corrugated iron roof on Java which slightly terrified me. I always thought I would be alright in that kind of situation but it was frightening, and I don’t think I handled it well. (It also highlighted how much he takes care of in terms of paperwork and finances when we travel – it took me a while to find our insurance papers and bank cards…). Ultimately, it could have been much worse, and it brought home how fragile our lives can be. I’m seriously grateful that we’ve been able to share so many amazing experiences together and nothing will ever change that.
Friends and family
I loved spending time with my nephews and nieces, and my cousins kids, and I was asked to be one of my best mate’s maid of honour.
I got to spend a couple of weeks with my grandparents at a time when they needed us to be there. My Taid has been deteriorating in hospital for much of this year. I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to drive my Nain to and from hospital, and to spend time with my Taid there.
It’s things like that I could never have done if I had not been taking time off to travel.
My photography skills have been progressing slowly under Master Lee Varis in the Arcanum. I’m almost done with Sphere 1 and have learnt loads so far. Photography is definitely something I want to do more of in the future.
Reading and Emotional Breakthroughs
I read a number of books like Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, and Brene Brown’s trilogy. I found these illuminating, and helpful emotionally. I feel like I’m finishing the year in a far more confident and better place than I have been before.
There are so many other books I read this year too. I started listing my favourites but there are too many. If you’re interested check out my Goodreads profile.
I got to spend time with 1Roof at the start of the year which was hugely valuable, and managed to get good work a lot easier than I expected on my return to London.
2. What was not so good in 2015?
I struggled with the fear of rejection within close friendships this year. I need to be more open with people and focus on deepening the positive relationships I have.
I’ve definitely drifted away from a few close friends which has been painful. This is partly due to me being out of the country for most of the last two years. But also, as a result of differing values, attitudes and goals.
I’ve met some wonderful people while travelling, the problem is, they don’t live anywhere near me now.
Doing too much
One of the toughest things about 2015 has been struggling with exhaustion. I’ve never found NOT doing much easy. I’m one of the crazy people who wants to see and do everything, even when I don’t have time.
I’ve done this before and always said I would never do it again… 2015 proved that I haven’t yet learned my lesson…
This year I definitely over did it. Japan and our road trips around north America and Norway were exhausting. We were out every day, walking for miles, with very little down time, or sleep. It was exhilarating but knocked me out. By the time I got to Indonesia, we were both sick, and sleeping for 12-16 hours a night.
Lack of focus on the long term
Our lack of planning for Indonesia trip is a classic example of short term focus. We hadn’t planned anything more than a few months in Japan, North America and then Norway. Bali was an afterthought…
We hadn’t had much internet while road tripping so turned up in Bali with just a couple of night’s booked. We were exhausted, and it was peak season, with most affordable accommodation booked out. We ended up making our trip up as we went along. It was fine but the whole trip could have been improved if we had planned it better.
For the last few years, my focus has been almost exclusively on travel plans. I’m massively grateful for the experiences I’ve had and wouldn’t change them for the world. Now that I’ve achieved many of those travel related goals I’m feeling lost. I don’t have another huge trip to plan, and I’m conscious that I don’t want to keep travelling for ever.
Life has got complicated all of a sudden. Everyone’s asking what I’m going to do next, how long will I be in London, am I moving to Oz, what am I going to do work wise etc? The truth is, my life’s a mess. I’m still figuring out the answers to all those questions.
I know I need to start shifting towards a longer term focus, rather than 3 month increments, I’m just surprised at how difficult I’m finding it.
Not Prioritising Sleep
I’ve always tried to be a pretty healthy and fit person. There are many reasons, but I have hardly been able to exercise for the last three months, this definitely needs to change. I think it’s partly related to getting enough sleep too.
I’ve always believed that I got by on little sleep – historically I have. Not that I wanted to. I know how important proper sleep is to physical and cognitive health. Wearing my Fitbit One this year showed how little sleep I actually got – a lot less than I thought…
I’ve always struggled with getting to sleep, I get to bed, and my mind explodes into a million different thoughts, even when I’m seriously tired! This year, I think this broke my body in some way.
Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe my body’s just had enough. Travel was exhausting and the last few months of working/commuting long hours has taken it’s toll. I’m experiencing health issues now that I’ve never experienced before. I don’t know if this is related to lack of sleep in any way, but it has seriously affected my quality of life. I really need to focus on fixing this ASAP. Going forward I want to make sure that my body gets at least 7-8 hours sleep a night. Sleep is integral to a healthy mind and healthy body and I need to prioritise that.
Income and not making the most of opportunities
As always I need to focus on increasing my income.
This year we passed on a few cool opportunities because we felt we couldn’t afford them. Financially things have worked out so we needn’t have worried. If I’d have known I would have done my PADI in Gili Meno, and had a few other expensive experiences. We should also have popped over to Oz from Indonesia since it’s so close and we had the time!
This is a difficult one because when you’re out of work, you never know how long it might be before you get your next assignment. We were being pretty conservative while we were away. Our trips were costing enough as it was and we were eager to save where we could.
Professionally I’ve landed on my feet in some ways. I’m currently doing some interesting work for a marketing company which has been a great opportunity. I’m working with some good people and have a degree of flexibility which is really important to me. The biggest downside is the time I spend commuting each week (which could be worse). I don’t mind if there’s a real business reason, but more often than not I’m finding that the time spent commuting is a colossal waste of time and energy which, coupled with the lack of sleep, is driving me slightly insane.
Going back to work has highlighted how few clothes I actually have. Before, all my money was put towards travel, clothes were a low priority. Now having gone back to work and having spilt mouthwash on the only clean dress I had one morning, I know I need to sort out my wardrobe!
I believe it’s important to try and enjoy life, and make the most of the opportunities we have. I could have done more, but I think I’ve done a decent job of achieving that this year. I’m still figuring out my focus for 2016. In the meantime I wish you all a gloriously happy new year!