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“This was the year he fell to pieces
And ironically this was the year when more people than he knew even existed scrambled to put him back together again
And as they tried they didn’t notice that he was smiling, smiling his ass off
No pun intended”

Pride’s Paranoia, Atmosphere

It’s pretty rare I open one of my annual retrospectives with a quote. As I read the words that trickle down for 2017, a smile forms. A smile that tells me I’m on the right path. A smile reflecting on what happened, and beaming.

My intention is to get the words down on paper, find some sort of structure, and tighten up this piece, but looking back and the stage I’m at – my words flow. There’s an interconnectedness that wasn’t as tangible at the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of solace I can draw from that.

Spirituality is something I grapple with. I buy into it for solid reasons. I know when I disidentify with myself I actually become closer to something more intrinsic to myself, and that practicing this helps me plenty. This is most easily recognised in consistent meditation, but it manifests itself in other ways as well.

What do I mean? Presence is one area for example. I remember reading there are limits to how far you can look back into the past, and how far you can look into the future, but there’s no limit to how deep you can go into the present.

Building on this even more, I look at the relationships I’ve cultivated, and can appreciate the efforts I’ve gone to maintaining and strengthening these bonds. I once received the kind feedback “you have a light around you Marshy” and the older I get, the more valuable I see this light, and the impact it can have on other people, and in turn, me!

There’s a lot that can be learned by listening to people who give a shit.

2017 was a year of adapting and consolidating, and I’m really happy with where I landed. Looking back, I had fairly straightforward goals:

  • be the best husband I can
  • start a family
  • commit and fulfil the 90 days without alcohol and then re-evaluate my situation
  • create more
  • reconnect with my spirituality
  • continue to cultivate the relationships that are important to me

…now that I’m on the other side of this year, there’s one of these points that still hurts.

Starting a family was something we decided to let go of this year. After a number of unsuccessful attempts over time, my beautiful wife asked, “what does our life look like if we didn’t?”

The answer that came back manifested itself in weird and wonderful ways. We re-evaluated our goals and had a Life Offsite, a reset, and committed to things in our lives for the next year, 10 years, and our lifetimes. These new goals gave us resolve, something to work towards, and a much clearer focus than I’ve ever had in my life.

We moved house. The first house chosen by both of us and close to the beach to boot. Now, Melbourne isn’t famous for its beach, but it is bloody splendid. Connecting to such a raw and physical presence has been amazing, and given me newfound appreciation for what we have and why we’re lucky. In 5 minutes I can be guiding myself along the water, rolling my ankles over with a run, and enjoying the sound. It’s bliss.

The other goals on the list were broad and accomplished. I stopped drinking for a decent period, I was as good a husband as I could be, I created more, my spirituality got back on track, and my relationships continued to prosper.

As a result of the Life Offsite, I had a whole raft of new goals that I’ll visit again midway through next year. Looking back on them earlier this month, I’m on track and pleasantly surprised by the slow and steady progress that I’ve made. My strong, impulsive sense of urgency has been tempered, and I know I’m on the right path.

Some of these goals included:

– consistent meditation practice
Meditation is something I never regret doing. It’s like returning to an anchored point that’s reassuring, centred, and my home. I struggled a bit with this in the first half of the year, and then brought it back when I picked up exercise again (see below). It’s made a world of difference and is something I consider to be critical to my health and success.

– run 2+ a week
– gym 2+ a week
Exercise is something that’s been on and off too. Over the last few months, I’ve introduced consistent exercise, a healthier diet, and have started shedding some kegs. This is all positive stuff, and I’m well on track to achieve this yearly goal (or a derivative of it that works for me).

– commit to therapy with a professional
This was something that I always suspected would be beneficial, but had never found the right doctor, and had never committed wholly to embracing the help it could provide. Instead this year I completed over 20 sessions, and while the journey was intense, I can now say on the other side that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

– weekly review/journal exercise
– publish an article bi-monthly
My writing has dropped off and I struggled to stick with these goals this year. I jokingly stated to my therapist that it’s because I’ve run out of things to complain about, and while that’s somewhat true – I should be writing independently of what’s going on in my life. I love putting words to the keyboard, tapping into flow, and sharing my thoughts – this is an ongoing work in progress.

– form and execute plan for setting boundaries at work
One thing I really picked up on is how much I can let work consume me. I pride myself on doing well, and when things are going my way I feel great, and when things aren’t going my way – I let it affect me more than it should. There’s a simple solution to this, and that’s establishing balance. Over the course of the year I identified things that keep me on an even keel. This included meditation, regular exercise, debriefing with select people, deprioritising certain things, and doubling down on others. I feel like this is an ongoing project, but given some of the challenges that were thrown my way this year, I don’t think I would have got through without adhering to this strategy.

– research education path (coding/MBA/Writing/UX)
It’s no secret I love learning, talking about learning, and sharing things I’ve learned. With that in mind, I have been very keen on pursuing a new endeavour that either adds/complements or supplements my current marketing skill-set. It’s early days on this one, but I’ve been putting a few feelers out and noting free and cheap materials that can help me along. I feel like this Machine Learning/AI thing is going to be critical to get across as a marketer. I feel like I want to go deeper on writing, and that I need to pour more effort in and level up somehow. An MBA or a UX course is another direction. We’ll keep probing and see where it goes.

That’s about it I think. Not as long as last year, but I feel a lot more whole as a result. As always there are things that are bubbling around my head, and carving out and prioritising them next year, while keeping an eye on my 1, 10, and lifetime goals – will be key.

Enjoy the end of the year, be safe, and continue to be curious.