A look back at 2016

A look back at 2016

I don’t look back at the year before often. At least in a way that I hold myself accountable for the previous year. So I’m taking a look back at 2016 and thought I should write about it as well.

Year of learning

One of my first posts last year was about giving the year a Theme of Learning. I wanted to focus a lot of my effort towards learning more academically and having new skills. Some of what I wrote was how to track the success of giving myself a theme.

The question as I look back at 2016, and that first post, is was I successful?

Firstly I didn’t find a way of statistically tracking my success, that means I have to look back and try to measure the year with an unbiased eye. I was able to focus on learning but at the end of it all I only completed one full track of learning. Many of the online styled courses, and other self-paced training, I did was not carried out to a successful completion.

Outcome

That’s not the level of success I wanted to see when looked back but it’s the only way to see it. I have an active mind that’s always looking at what the next thing is, or what I will follow up with rather than committing to completing the task in front of me. I see this issue even when I game. In World Of Warcraft I have maxed out character, but I have so many others that I start leveling because I enjoy the journey to max level.

But I also see this reflected in my reading. I love books. I miss having huge bookstores to spend the afternoon in browsing through shelves. That end with me buying books, either physical book or eBooks, I own many books. Also I have a subscription to Audible where I get a new audiobook every month.

My mind is constantly jumping to the next thing instead of finishing what’s right in front of me. It’s a wonder I get anything done.

Solution

To bring about my focus and give me a better environment for learning my wife and I figured that it would be best to get me out of the house.

Working from home and learning from home is great. There’s so much comfort and you never have to get out of your pyjamas. But that relaxed atmosphere was also not motivating me to follow through.

Near my wife’s business we’ve rented some office space that’s large enough for us both. I have moved my desk into here and created a nice space for me to work. The office is large enough for us both and she has her own space to work away from her clinic that will give her a place to work with less distractions.

By being here I have to put on real clothes and leave the house. Which works for me as it changes how my mind sees what I’m doing. I’ve now gone to work mentally and I’ve already started feeling more accomplished with the tasks I’ve been setting myself here.

Measurement of success

I may not have been completely successful in my goal last year, and taking a look back at 2016 has shown me where I faltered. But taking an honest look at where I held myself back I have been able to get oriented in a direction to create success.

Teaching my daughter to drive

Yes my daughter is only 3 and half but I figured it was time to teach her to drive.

Each week we go out for my daughter’s swimming lessons and the pool is on private property along some single lane roads on farm land. This means, typically, the road is empty and allows us to drive at a more leisurely pace.

A few months ago I started letting her sit on my lap to “drive” the car and it makes her happy and excited. It’s fun and harmless, unless she gains a mad amount of strength and wrenches the wheel from my hand and drives us into a fence.

I don’t think that will happen though.

The experience also allows me to teach her to focus on the task at hand. Over the weeks she has become more aware of the drive, how the road feels, and when the road curves so she can begin turning the wheel.

Teaching my daughter to drive is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long while. My father used to let me “drive” on his lap and at the time I thought it was me turning the wheel and really driving. And I want my daughter to have those same, fun, memories of us driving together that I have of me and my dad driving together.

Journaling for better mental health and goals

Journaling for better mental health and goals

Journal Life collectionThroughout history folks have been journaling and keeping diaries. We’ve got the collections from historical figures within personal libraries and have the ability to read what folks were thinking in times of upheaval and change.

Without journaling we wouldn’t have the Diary of Anne Frank to further understand the perspective of the Jewish Persecution from a teenager directly affected by the war.

Without the chance to read the diary of Virginia Woolf we would be denied the knowledge from her diaries to be better informed about mental illness suffered silently by many, bi-polar disorder. And without Virginia being a prominent writer she most likely would have been committed and further insight into this illness would be lost.

Journaling is a tool

I use my writing as a way to empty my mind of the things that are rattling around that I can’t make sense of or things that are just causing me anxiety. Many issues in our lives cannot be solved, but getting them written down can give us a better perspective on what is going on. Often just seeing it written down and see how simple something can be makes it easier to understand.

When I was in the Navy and deployed for 6 months across the world I would keep a personal journal writing out the days events. Email at the time wasn’t that great so I would write letters to myself sharing experiences or problems. Writing like that allowed me to unburden my mind and relax.

What I’m doing now

I try to write here every now and then but with the changes in my year of learning I haven’t given myself much time to dedicate to writing for public consumption.

Last year I backed (another) Kickstarter project by a company here in Scotland, Journal Life. And they’ve put together a nice collection and process of journaling that I am hoping will give me some further direction and understanding of my journey and life.

Starting soon

I’ve only received the journals yesterday so I’ve not started my journaling process yet. I want to get a new pencil first for writing as I don’t want to use pen. I use pen for my study notes.

As well the journaling style with Journal Life is more than just writing out my thoughts as I do here. There is some structure and focus on goals is an important aspect of their view of journaling.

I am excited about this journal I’ll be on with Journal Life and I’m hopeful that with some structure I learn more about myself and also improve things about myself that will be reflected in daily experiences with others.

Remember to Take Time for Yourself

Remember to Take Time for Yourself

No matter how busy you get, and life gets, it’s important to take time for yourself. We all need a break from all the things around us.

Take time for a reset

It’s our minds that become busy and get us thinking about everything we could be doing, or need to be doing, or haven’t spent enough time doing. But if all the stuff in your head is there and nothing can be done about it right now then stop for a moment and take time for yourself.

No matter how important stuff is we still need to reset our minds or we’re not helpful to all those folks around us that depend on us to be at our best.

Even if it’s the chance to sleep in a little bit longer than normally or watch TV shows that really just provide  noise, getting a chance to not think about the stressors in life is nice. You can take time and read a book while taking a bath. Or, as I do, listen to audiobooks and podcasts while doing chores around the home. I’m still getting things done but I’m also enjoying a good story that keep my mind distracted.

Give time to others

Your partner needs to take time for themselves as well. Often we get so focused on our stuff that we forget that the other folks in our life need some time for a mental reset.

In the mornings I often take our daughter downstairs for breakfast and to get her day started while my wife gets an extra hour in bed to doze and relax a little. Sadly I’m not always able to give her all the time she deserves as our daughter starts wanting to go up and check on mommy. I’ve taught her the concept of whispering but she’s still not the best.

Take time together

Taking time for yourself doesn’t always mean spending time alone. Spend an afternoon with the family out at the park chasing some butterflies.

There are often lots of cool things to do around you that cost next to nothing to visit and have fun. And if you’re in the situation as we are with a two-year old, everything is exciting to her. Watching my daughter get excited about silly things that I’ve outgrown is more fun than anything else I can do that costs money.