I love this time of year. The air is filled with nervous energy as people make lofty goals with great intentions. All the buzz has me, well, buzzing! Before I make a declaration for the new year, I like to reflect a bit on the previous. A personal retrospective, if you will. I never really feel like I accomplish much, though admittedly, I’m always hard on myself. In fact, as I sit in Second Cup trying to craft this post, I find myself feeling like I dabbled a lot in 2015 with no real progress in any one thing. A retrospective helps to celebrate achievements, identify opportunities, and prepare to take on the new year by storm… and to remind myself that it’s okay that not everything I pursued has lead to a definitive goal. It’s that whole idea of mindfulness and being present… or whatever that thing I’m not good at doing is all about.
I had 4 main themes for 2015: Mountains, Introspection and Improvement, Exploration, and Athleticism.
I can’t focus on the quantity, but the quality of my mountain experiences. I didn’t “peak bag” as many mountains as I was hoping, but there were some amazing adventures. A one-week mountaineering course in Banff National Park was the most challenging and combined the thrill of trekking on ice with the rewards of summiting Mount Thompson and Mount Habel. Dan, Paul and I summited Middle Sister, which wiped us out to the point of Beyonce-like delusions of grandeur, and Robbie and I hiked to the Helen Lake and Cirque Peak area in what has become one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. I can always say I wish I hiked more, but I can’t negate how incredible those experiences were. Mount Temple managed to elude us again. I’m about to believe it’s unclimbable. 2016. That’s the year…
Introspection and Improvement
I consumed content like content was going out of style. Between audiobooks, podcasts and my Kindle, my mind was always spinning with ideas. I wanted to read/listen to at least 10 books. Here are some recommendations:
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Greg McKeown)
- The Art of Work (Jeff Goins)
- Explorers of the Infinite (Maria Coffey)
- The Power of Vulnerability (Brene Brown)
- Rising Strong (Brene Brown)
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a Word That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
- Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job (Jon Acuff)
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)
- The School of Greatness (Lewis Howes)
- The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss)
- Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel (Rolf Potts)
As an introvert, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explained so much about myself. I’ve realized that I’m not actually as anti-social as I think I am, but rather, I just need more time to recharge on my own than most… and oh how that realization has helped me feel less guilty about saying no to many things, and instead, say yes to my own boundaries and sanity. Otherwise, I’ve become a HUGE fan of Brene Brown. For a primer, listen to her TED talk, The power of vulnerability. Her Power of Vulnerability audiobook is the best thing I’ve listened to all year and had me laughing like a crazy person on my walks home. The books that will influence 2016 the most for me are Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job, The 4-Hour Workweek, and Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. It’s probably not difficult to see that travel is a big 2016 focus.
I really can’t complain with my travels this year: Mexico, Dallas, more of the Canadian Rockies, and the West Coast were all amazing. I’ve always wanted to explore Vancouver Island, and Robbie and I made it out that way, stopping at Kelowna and Vancouver en route to Tofino. Nepal was an interesting experience last year, with the heli-rescue and the mystery flu that lasted weeks upon my return to Calgary. My travels in 2015 didn’t take me off the continent, and I was okay with that, but I’ll be changing that in 2016.
I focused on transforming my body in 2015. I completed two rounds of Body Beast, started running again for fitness and leisure, and hiked lots. I did a bit more biking than usual, but not much. At least I biked from Canmore to Banff, which I had been wanting to do for a long time. Unfortunately I ended the year with a back muscle spasm that had me stop everything for many weeks, which resulted in my binge watching of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix (I have zero shame about this!). I’ve realized that healthy living and fitness have fully become part of my lifestyle. I write this in a notable way because this is not how I would characterize the first 30 years of my life. Discipline and perseverance have made it possible. It may have taken some trial and error to discover what “works”, but I’ve realized that once you discover that fun activity that allow you to lose yourself in that activity, hold onto it, and protect the time you allot for it. For me, that’s gym workouts/body building, and climbing mountains.
Outside of those 4 themes, I had a great year. My partner and I moved in together, I made it home to Ontario for the Chin family picnic, and I started getting lots of sleep, as it finally dawned on me that I need oodles of it to function properly. Goal-wise, I missed the mark on some that I really wanted to do, like more backpacking, or pay a significant amount of my debt, but hey, whatevs. At least I finally managed to get my blog to a happy place, but give it a few weeks and I’ll probably change things around. I’m fickle that way. I also realized I have a love for chicken shawarma, and need to keep my cravings in check. Chicken shawarma plates tend to work against my fitness goals.
So, overall, it was a good year. I have my health and I’m surrounded by loved ones. Everything else is icing :). If I were to toast the new year, it’s this:
Here’s to more gratitude in 2016 while doing more of what you love.