2022 Review - Year of Foundation
Yeah, I know, I said Saturday and Sunday. Turns out the wife picked New Year's Eve to finally pick up my cold, and our neighbourhood decided to have a whole load of early fireworks parties, which meant keeping the dog up, so yay!.
For the last few years, I've been using the Theme System instead of resolutions or goals. Essentially instead of setting hard and fast resolutions that inevitably fall by the wayside like lose 50 pounds by next year, set a more general theme and aim for improving trend lines. Using the weight loss as an example, it doesn't really matter if you lose 50 pounds or 30, what matters is you lost weight. Your theme was successful!
Knowing I had a few milestones coming up this, I chose the Year of Foundation, a year in which I set the groundwork on which to build on. The past few years had really shook that up, with rental house problems, redundancy, career uncertainty, and health issues. I need to make some improvements across the board, so what did that look like?
I separated it into three real categories: Health, Security, and Spiritual and personal Fulfilment.
Health wise I had the obvious weight loss goal. I started the year at 294 pounds (around 133kg), which while is wasn't the worst I've even been (see this post for more on that), it's still pretty bad. I new a 'normal' weight was out of the question, but if I could push my self out of the obese category, that would be enough. On top of that, I needed to ramp up my exercise after quitting the gym to really ramp up the house savings, get my wisdom teeth looked at due to some intermittent pain, and complete my therapy that I'd not long started.
The main aim for Security was buying a house. I didn't have any set timescale for moving in, but after four years of renting with my wife, we had our 10% deposit saved, plus fees and furniture expenses. The main thing was getting on with the process and at least getting some offers out there. I also wanted to keep my credit utilisation low (that's been a real issue historically) and learn to invest. I've dabbled in it previously, and not just GME, but I wanted to really utilise it and grow our remaining savings.
And finally, the fulfilment section. I wanted to really explore my spirituality, give back to my community and to charities, and get more involved politically beyond laughing at the Liz Truss lettuce and shouting at the general state of UK politics.
How did I do?
The fulfilment section went by the wayside. Really, really easily. Turns out Health and Security required a lot of energy and focus this year, and that left very little for any deep exploration of self, society, or politics.
It wasn't a complete loss though. I did actually engage with my local MP on the topic of energy prices1, and my wife and I set up regular direct debits to four charities, giving something back after we gained so much.
Security was where I gained the most. We hit the ground running with the house purchase, viewing houses at the start of the year and getting an offer accepted by February. The move itself happened early July, and we'd settled by August. While there's still some work to do, the fact remains that we have a house that we can't be kicked out of by a landlord wanting to reuse the property, or thanks to section 21, any reason at all really. It's our names on the property, our names on the mortgage, our names on the Land Registry. It's ours. Can't get much more secure than that.
Financially, our savings have taken a battering due to roof and guttering work, plus needing a new sofa, but they're not empty, which is better than nothing. My credit balance has barely grown and is way under the 25% limit, despite the many, many opportunities to use and splurge on it. I was fully prepared to have a few grand on it by year's end, so this is a major victory for me. Investing and my career didn't have a great deal of positive actions for them, but they had some, so that's still a win.
That leaves health. I didn't lose anywhere near as much weight as I wanted, and being sick through most of December didn't help, but I did lose weight. I also finally saw a dentist, who declared that my wisdom teeth weren't the cause of the pains I've been having, but an odd bite was. This is probably cause by the anti-snoring mouthpiece I have to wear, so first comes weight loss, then comes a different type of mouth piece to reset my bite.
My mental health has seen my biggest success health wise though. Therapy was more beneficial that I could have imagined, both in terms of resolving some past issues and perspectives, and introducing new thought patterns and coping mechanisms. Building on it, I started a weekly/fortnightly self-check in, reviewing my thoughts, feelings, and anxieties and going through the same conversations I had with my therapist. This all proved successful, to the point where I've confidently lowered my medication dosage from 45mg daily to 30mg daily, and am looking to shift down further in February.
Then there's the last bit of the foundation.
I didn't achieve everything I set out to at the start of the year. I thought I'd manage more. I wanted more. Despite all that, this year has still been a massive success for me.
I talked at the start about trend lines, and the trend lines across the board have either gone up or at the very least, not gone down. I hit some major milestones with the house buy and therapy, and while I'm still morbidly obese, I've still lost weight, and that's as big a success as anything.
The thing I'm proudest of though is my approach through the year. When it was clear that the house buy was going to require the majority of my time, money, and focus, I stripped back on everything else to secure the house. When I got that bandwidth back, I rested, then turned up the focus on my health again. When I wanted to really dial up my career plans and maybe earn some side income, I kept it in check to focus on the core.
This might seem obvious and natural, but usually I decide that I can do it all, at the same time, at a high level. Or worse; it sneak up on me without me noticing, and I lose control over what's grabbing my attention. Then I burn myself out trying, have a mental health relapse, and wind up completely useless, unable to do anything for weeks at a time.
What I did was make intentional decisions to fight back against my perfectionism and strip back to what was essential. I made intentional decisions on where to spend my time and attention, and it's that attitude I want to carry through to 2023.
Which is why my 2023 theme is the Year of Intentionality. I'll be going through that tomorrow.
Happy New Year!
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Nothing actually came of it, because he's a back bench MP toeing the party line, but it still counts.↩