My 2017 Year in Review

London Tower Bridge

Like a lot of people, the end of a year normally means that I take a step away from the world to review and reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well over the previous year.

Usually, I do this in my own private journal. That gives me a chance to be totally, brutally honest about my successes and failures without the temptation to self-edit lest somebody reads my review and discovers that -shock horror- I don’t get everything right.

This year, I’m doing things differently.

If I have one New Year’s resolution for 2018, it’s to be more open and forthcoming about myself, my life, and the challenges I face, especially as I move forward into a whole new career and way of living.

So I’m starting as I mean to go on, by publishing my review here on my website.

Here goes.

Things I’m Most Proud of in 2017

My 100 Days Smoke Free Video

2017 was the year that I launched my Youtube channel and posted a lot of videos about quitting smoking, avoiding relapses in addiction, and not letting things like addiction, depression, and mental health hold us back from the things we truly want for our lives.

Of all the videos I posted, there’s one I’m particularly proud of, and it’s this one.

When I first made this video, I honestly believed that nobody would watch it, or that it might clock a small handful of views over the course of a year.

Instead, it clocked up over 2,000 and counting.

By Youtube standards, I’m aware that this doesn’t make me a huge success, but by my own standards, it certainly does.

That said, it isn’t the number of views that makes me so insanely proud of this video – it’s the comments.

Through this video, I’ve connected with so many people who are on their own journey towards quitting smoking. I’ve met so many who are sharing their own struggles, and so many who say that me standing in front of a camera in my living room for 15 minutes has in some way helped them to keep going on their own journey.

That truly means the world to me, and is a huge source of strength and inspiration as I work towards starting a new career where I can help even more people overcome their addictions and live their best life.

Celebrating Five Years Sober and One Year Smoke-Free

Of course, I stayed off the cigarettes for much longer than 100 days, and in late September celebrated one year without cigarettes.

A few weeks after that, I commemorated five years of continuous sobriety – an accomplishment which I never imagined possible when I walked away from my last drink in October 2012.

My life has changed immensely since then, and it’s only been in the past year that I’ve truly begun to appreciate how much better things are now that I’m sober – and how much I still can’t take my sobriety for granted.

Through depression, bereavement, and even the daily stresses and strains of everyday life, I’ve had to put the effort in for this, but you know what?

Every single second of it was worth it.

Cycling Over 1,000 Miles

In an effort to get myself out of the crippling, suicidal depression that consumed me in the early part of this year, I challenged myself to saddle up and ride 1,000 miles on my mountain bike.

1,000 miles seemed like the perfect challenge:

Big enough to require some serious effort but still realistic enough that, from a position lying under the duvet on my sofa, I could actually see myself accomplishing it.

At some point, I’ll write up all the lessons I learned on my 1,000-mile challenge, but for now I’ll just say this:

Some of my happiest memories from 2017 involve just me, an empty canal path, beautiful blue skies and breathtaking views. Every mile changed me, bit by bit, so much so that, by the time I got done, not only did I not feel suicidal any more, but I actually couldn’t wait to live the next chapter of my life.

Things That Could Have Gone Better in 2017

Financial Security

It’s easy to say that my lack of financial success in 2017 was because I was dealing with depression and the loss of two family members whilst, at the same time, my biggest freelance writing client changed their priorities.

I’m not saying that those things didn’t play a factor, but the truth is that I just didn’t put in the requisite effort to change things around.

Instead, I focussed on other goals, like the 1,000-mile challenge, starting my Youtube channel, and writing 300,000 words in a single calendar year.

I nailed all three (hoorah!), but my freelance writing business suffered as a result.

I’m OK with that. Those three goals are things I needed to achieve, and there’s always more than enough money to go around. I’ll reclaim my share in 2018.

Not Reading Enough

I love reading and I love books.

Books are the whole reason I became a writer in the first place, but in 2017, I focussed far more on output than input.

In fact, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I only read two and a half books all year, or at least two and a half books that I can actually remember reading.

I read the game-changing Chimp Paradox by Prof. Steve Peters and The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, and I also read bits of Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body, but for someone who claims to love reading, that’s clearly not enough.

2018 goal – read more books.

Failed to Reach my Target Weight

I’ve battled with my weight for most of my life, but when 2017 began, I was convinced that this would finally be the year I turned things around and got in the best shape of my life.

Sure, cycling 1,000 miles helped, but for every mile I cycled, there were countless calories devoured during the darkest periods of my depression, or even just when things got really busy.

Don’t get me wrong, I made real progress. I have lost some weight, and the move to vegetarianism means I do look and feel better thane ver, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

I have to remind myself that I’m a constant work in progress and that if nothing else, I at least gave myself a good head start on achieving my health goals in 2018.

My Five Favourite Things That I discovered in 2017

1: The song My Name is Human by Highly Suspect
2: Nacho Bean Burgers (delicious)
3: Bojack Horseman (seriously, how did I never watch this show before?)
4: The Chimp Paradox
5: How good phsybient playlists on Youtube are for engaging in deep hyper-focus.

Five Things I’m Glad I Got Rid of in 2017

1: Depression’s control over me (I may still have bouts of depression but I will no longer allow it to control my life)
2: Fear of putting myself out there
3: Work clients who gave me the biggest headaches and the smallest pay cheques
4: My wedding photos (letting go of the past)
5: Anxiety about starting a new career.

My Five Biggest Goals for 2018

  1. Complete my Level 2 counselling qualification
  2. Reach my ideal weight
  3. Explore five new cities
  4. Make up for the lack of financial success I had in 2017
  5. Complete a 10K road race

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