2017 - Year In Review

2018 will be my fortieth year on this rock. Some days I feel like I’m still 15 years old whilst on others I realise the years have passed by in a blur. Many times it felt like Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over. It’s only in the last few years that I have woken up and started to pay more attention to what I really want out of this life and started surrounding myself with like-minded people who I respect and who continue to inspire me.

This is my second annual review. This year, I’ve opted for a different format to try and uncover both the good and the bad.

First, a few highlights that immediately jump out when looking back over the last year.

In April, I took my family to visit Windsor. We spent a couple of days at LEGOLAND before also visiting Windsor Castle and Windsor itself.

We are members of the National Trust and use it to find reasons to visit more of our own countryside. This year was no exception and throughout the year we visited several properties. I love making a point to learn something new from every place we visit.

Our big family holiday this year was to the stunning Dumfries & Galloway area of Scotland. We stayed in a lovely lodge, visiting as much as we could in the surrounding area and definitely plan to return.

In June, I travelled to the second (and final 😭) DYF Conference held at the Yasuragi Spa in Stockholm, Sweden for another few enjoyable days. It was nice meeting back up with people I met the previous year as well as new people from across the globe. I had lots of interesting chats with many of the attendees and speakers. I particularly enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation over dinner with Sean D’Souza and educating Shai on Jay and Silent Bob with Rob Walling.

I am lucky enough to be in two great Mastermind groups and consider it a privilege to be a member of both groups. The group created out of the 2016 DYF Conference were reunited in person. We conducted a live mastermind session to debrief after the conference. Then Blair and I had some time to see more of Stockholm than we got chance to the previous year.

In my other Mastermind group, Marc, Darren and myself gathered for a 4-day business retreat at The Chairman’s Retreat in Slad, Gloucestershire. It was a great chance to regroup, unwind and get clarity and focus on our Q4 goals. We all got a lot of value out of it and we have plans to do something similar in 2018.

What went well this year?

Meditation. It has well and truly become a daily habit. I maintained a daily meditation streak hitting 365 days in July and I have continued beyond that. As of the end of December, it was at 535 and I plan to maintain it to 730 – a two-year unbroken streak. I still consider myself a beginner, with some days better than others. I do see the general changes in my behaviour and thought patterns and can more quickly centre myself if stress or anger starts to appear.

Stoicism. I read the Daily Stoic every day, reflecting on the topic and continued to practice, study and write about stoicism. My studies are only beginning but, like with meditation, I’m more able to identify and deal with things better. Towards the end of the year, I also added the Daily Stoic Journal to my daily practice which is further helping.

Journalling. I have been using the 5-minute journal consistently and found there were many times when I wanted to write more than it allowed for. I tried to build a more comprehensive journalling habit with mixed success to start with. It wasn’t until I set myself a goal of building a daily habit that I started to see results. I achieved this by using a template and allowing myself to only fill in what I felt like. I met my target of journaling at least 75 days out of 90. As I mentioned above, I also added in the Daily Stoic journal and have been using that for both morning and evening sessions too. I intend to continue this practice throughout 2018.

Health & Fitness. After an inconsistent year in 2016, I vowed to do better in 2017. I started looking for a personal trainer to help motivate me and ensure that I was performing the kettlebell exercises correctly. It was a couple of months or so into the year before I found someone, but this year I really feel like I have made good gains, building a much more solid foundation of regular workouts every week. I didn’t hit my goal of a 24kg military press as I had a weird niggle with my left arm for several months. It prevented me from using heavier weights on the press and TGU until late into the year. That said, I saw significant changes in my body tone and posture. My general fitness is much improved which has me fired up to set an ambitious goal. I want to achieve the “simple” goal in Simple and Sinister. It comprises 100 single-arm swings with a 32kg kettlebell, followed by 5 TGUs on each side with a 32kg kettlebell. Plus I want to hit at least a 1 RM military press with the 32kg bell. If I can hit this I will be in the best shape of my life by my 40th birthday.

Family My wife and I are getting on better than ever and I have managed to work less and have a stricter separation between work and leisure. I still have work to do there and plan to work smarter not harder so that I achieve an even better balance in 2018.

Reading Another solid year of reading. According to my GoodReads stats, I read 30 books. They were a mix of business, self-help & fiction books. Our Inline Block slack community book club has helped me maintain my reading habits and introduced me to books I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. I also made more of an effort to actively read and make notes to better absorb and apply what I’m reading. I started creating book notes that I publish here. In 2018 I have set myself a target of 36 books. I plan to read more in the evenings instead of watching TV and will publish more of those as book notes.

What didn’t go so well this year?

Business. From a financial perspective, it wasn’t a good year. We were concentrating on improving our internal procedures and processes and consolidating our core business. As a result, our sales took quite a hit. Not catastrophic by any means but with more solid procedures in place and a clearer focus we are ready to make bigger improvements in 2018. We also experimented with OKRs as a goal setting system with mixed results. It helped us jell more as a team but we found it hard to set what we considered good ones.

Writing. My output this year was only ok. Compared to almost any other previous year it would have been pretty good but I had aimed at publishing around 30 posts this year. I only managed to publish 15 posts and 2 book notes. Some of this was due to the fact that I didn’t write as often as I had planned during my morning routine. I would often squander the sessions or use them for catching up on work items. I had a similar problem with content for the business, only publishing 7 articles. Maintaining a consistent writing schedule and publishing is my biggest problem. I’ve set a longer-term goal to publish twice a month for six months.

What am I working towards?

2017 saw me taking time to reflect and pay more attention to myself, my values and my philosophies. This has been very helpful to understand myself and my purpose so I can lead a more fulfilling life. I now know where I want to try and take my business and spend the next few years to grow it with intention. At the same time, I want to make sure that I’m enjoying life and all it has to offer with my family. I don’t want to wait until “retirement” before I experience interesting things and places.

Intentional and Focus: This year I want to cement many of the habits I have been cultivating. These positive habits enable me to have more productive days and do the things that help me to achieve my goals. I will be more intentional about the books I read. I won’t be afraid to not finish a book that doesn’t hold my interest or provide enough information that I can use. I will continue to refine my personal productivity systems. I will continue to put in place the lessons I’ve learned through the Free to Focus and Best Year Ever courses. These courses and use of Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner will keep me on track to achieve my goals. I will be more assertive, saying no to those who we can’t help or would take us in the wrong direction.

I’m conscious that whatever I’m doing this coming year sets the foundations for what happens in 2 years time. As I grow my business I’ve already started improving my management and leadership skills. I now need to improve my sales and marketing skills to learn how to promote my own personal brand and find the right clients.

Always Be Shipping: I want to be seen as someone who ships. Whether that is a small side-project, a side-hustle, or publishing articles on a regular schedule.

Balance: I like the work that I do, so much so that often I don’t see it as work. That leads me to spend longer on it and not actually being as productive as I could or should. I’ve learnt that I need to balance work (or what I consider as work) with rejuvenation and relaxation. Learning to say No means I can say Yes to the best opportunities and do more of the things which align with my purpose. I’m setting constraints on my working time to force me to work harder and achieve more in less time. As we all know work expands to fill the available time. Limiting when I can work will give me the focus to do only the meaningful work and less of the inconsequential.

They say that life begins at 40. In 2018 I’m going to create more meaningful moments with my friends and family and make the most of this life I’ve been given.


Where next?

Want to see how I compared to last year? Read my 2016 Review


Got any questions or comments? Drop me a message on Twitter (@elaptics).