A year ago I sat and wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish last year.
But that’s all well and good.
Sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned.
But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I want to be the kind of person who welcomes the surprises as much as I welcome the plans.
What follows is a review of all the things I had no plans of doing but managed to do anyway.
Table of contents
I have difficulties justifying taking care of myself even though I know I should. Little rituals that don’t make me feel like I’m depriving someone else of something works quite well.
After I managed to quit smoking—again—it was only a matter of time before I started treating myself to freshly ground coffee—again.
I’ve talked plenty about it before so won’t do it again but needless to say, this is probably the one vice I will never give up.
Having those few but spectacular cups of coffee every morning sets the tone for the entire rest of the day and it’s a symphony I always enjoy.
Meal planning and weekly shopping
I never imagined meal planning would reduce the cognitive load as much as it did.
Thinking about what we’re going to eat and what we need to buy only once a week might just be my favourite new thing I didn’t plan on doing but did anyway.
As the year came closer to its end and I realised I still had a few more holiday days left I decided to spend them taking Mondays off whenever I could.
I called it self-care Mondays and would often spend the entire day with no distractions in complete silence as I did life-admin and writing.
Four years ago I started to question why, despite loving my salmon-coloured t-shirts, I wore them so rarely?
As I began to uncover why an entire collection of reasons unfolded and set me on course for a journey that has already lasted for years.
And even though my wardrobe will never be finished, last year was the first year I made significant progress towards making it as minimal and meaningful as I want it to be.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. John A. Shedd
It’s often said that we’re the average of the five people we surround ourselves with.
A social influence study by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler suggests that in reality we’re actually the average of our friends’ friends, and our friends’ friends’ friends as well, called the Network phenomena.
Reading Harry Potter to Lucien
Inspired by Rebecka’s bedtime reading and Lucien’s love of most things magical I asked him if he would be interested in reading the Harry Potter books together.
We’ve had a lot of fun reading together, having almost finished the Chamber of Secrets and coming to the definite conclusion that I can’t do a Ron Weasley impression at all.
Family game nights
I love playing board games—so much so that I even designed my own.
So this year we’ve played classics such as Labyrinth and more modern games, such as Pandemic: Iberia and Merchants & Marauders and enjoyed them all.
But the most memorable game was without a doubt when Lucien won his first game of chess against me.
Recreating childhood photos
My mom, siblings and I were laughing all the way through staging and recreating our childhood photos.
We laughed even harder when we realised that in on the of them, we had gotten the children mixed up.
Guest-starring on podcast
I was delighted to be invited as a guest to Sudden Double Deep, the podcast where they watch three films linked by a word in the title.
Choosing the word RUN to promote my marathon fundraiser meant I was responsible for subjecting us to murder by futuristic disco in Logan’s Run, a pulse-pounding techno-pumping thriller with Run Lola Run and Simon Pegg doing his best to win back Thandie Newton in the romantic comedy Run Fatboy Run.
Daryl, Jeanette and Ben are awesome people and I couldn’t have been more honoured to join them for an episode.
Date nights with Katy
Katy and I managed to go out a few nights as well, which meant we got to see Nancy and Suspiria at the 38th Cambridge Film Festival and Sarah Pascoe’s LadsLadsLads at the Corn Exchange.
I look forward to more unplanned date nights.
I am never healthier, spiritually and emotionally than when I’m learning, experiencing new things and challenging myself.
I planned on reading four books and was thrilled when I put down Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow as my 18th and last book of the year.
I won’t tell you how many books I plan on reading this year but rest assured it’ll be a single digit. 😉
Half marathon PB (personal best)
Whilst my total running distance was less last year than the year before, I can take solace in the fact that just before the injury I managed to set a new PB during one of my training runs.
At 1:54:32, the sub-two-hour half marathon is something I’m very proud of and a testament to how far I’ve come since I started running.
Sat in one of the rooms in the office at work is a ukulele.
It’s been there for longer than I have, and every time I look at it I want to pick it up, tune it and learn how to play it.
So last year, I did just that.
Turns out, 20 years of acoustic guitar experience is quite a headstart when it comes to learning the ukulele so in a matter of hours, I had already learned how to play Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love.
Tales from the Gun
Four months of writing and ~11,000 words later I finished the first draft of my second novella; titled Tales from the Gun, it tells the story of Trevor Miller, a mid-level hired killer whose gun suddenly starts talking to him.
Next, I’ll be editing and sculpting the story into a more coherent one at which point I’ll also talk more about it.
I want to make this world a better place than it was when I arrived. I want to make it more inclusive to people, especially the people who have been marginalised and ignored for centuries.
Learning how to lead
Inspired by Gavin Elliot’s talk Professional Progression I approached him for mentoring and although the time wasn’t right to begin a long-distance mentorship his talk highlighted some of the professional aspects I had struggled to articulate.
That is; Leading a team of people in any discipline requires a completely different set of skills than being a member of that team.
And I needed to learn and improve on those skills.
None of these things existed in any of my plans.
But they all happened anyway.
And all these things contributed to making my year a better, richer one.
Sometimes, it’s not the plans we make that create the most lasting memories, it’s the plans we don’t.