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2023 / 24

The back and forth in my head goes as follows…

Do I write this blog and acknowledge I’ve missed the deadline? Or do I skip writing it and skip gleefully ahead?

You’re reading this, so I don’t need to state the obvious. But I want to give an honourable mention to our capacity to do all sorts of mental gymnastics when it comes to avoiding discomfort and accountability. As a counsellor, I see it in clients. As a socially connected person, I see it in friends. As a fellow human, I see it in myself.

This year, I want to own it. My intention is to look in the mirror and have some honest conversations. The first was about not living up to my full potential. It was uncomfortable, sure. But it was conducive to change.

I’ve since done a huge revamp of my organisational and productivity systems. I’ve got a wall calendar with a stack of coloured markers and my Notion app set up with all my goals and to-dos.

I’ve utilised both before, but not in as much detail. I will also incorporate reflection and planning sessions at the end of each week. Maybe even scoring to see if gamification does anything remotely close to the way computer games used to send me manic as a teenager.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”. – James Clear

I’m no preacher of hustle culture. I almost throw up from the amount of alpha male, bio-hacking, bit-coin bro, 7 figure business entrepreneur, lifestyle and coaching content I see on the daily. I don’t believe life has to be about deprivation and big dreams. If it’s your stroke, then by all means folks, stroke. But what everyone should strive for is a sense of progress.

We all have a bit more in the tank. I think that’s fair to say. And tapping into one’s full potential, whatever that is, is one of the best feelings. Also fair.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me a bowl of ice-cream and a few hours of Instagram reels and true crime documentaries. But these sparkling pleasures are no more than glitter that’s gone with the wind. If you want to strike gold you have to dig for it.

I say this while looking at a copy of my book, Living in Cream. Sure, I’ve completed four different professional qualifications in my life – admittedly trying harder each time. But there’s a different kind of satisfaction that comes with creating something from nothing – with the entirety of your soul. It was hard work, but it paid off. A gift that keeps on giving. I’m still finding value in it almost a decade later as something I can share with clients now that I’m a counsellor.

I’m also using it as motivation to finish my second book, Home. I already made this YouTube video talking about the book’s content as well as the creative process, so I’ll just say that it’s going to be a focus point for me. I will finish my book…. and finally launch my podcast. This is something I haven’t announced yet. Hopefully doing so now will kick me into action.

Here’s a little pitch for it: Since I started this platform in 2013, I’ve done a hell of a lot of talking about me. I’ve been on a journey. However, I’ve also met no shortage of people with stories to tell of their own. The difference between us being they didn’t feel the urge to blog about it. Whaaaaaat – not everyone wants to be the centre of attention?!

Well, having a podcast is my way to share a bit of my platform. It’s going to be called The Brighter Side and feature guests talking about their formative life experiences. I want to empower my guests to own their stories and give my listeners the gift of learning from their insights.

The book and podcast both flow into the goal of raising my professional voice and developing my presence. This year I felt stronger in my stance. I networked with some people doing big things in the men’s mental health space following an article I wrote about Andrew Tate.

Funny enough, I was hesitant to even write it fearing the wrath of Tate’s delicate and deluded fanboys. Sure, someone did call it “the most ret***ed thing they’ve ever read.” But my blog got some traction leading to the opportunity to start guest speaking in highschool. There’s something to the saying that where there’s risk, there’s reward.

The other big professional win was joining the team at Strong Space Counselling. Its owner, Matt has done phenomenal work to build his private practice to the extent he needs a team. This has allowed me to slowly and steadily grow my client load. Also growing as a professional with every session. The self-doubt I had before my first session two years ago is not even a whisper anymore. Now I’m hearing clients telling me they can’t thank me enough. My response is to thank them – for trusting me and for putting in the work.

In the therapy world, it doesn’t just take two to tango; clients have to keep the dance going when they leave the room. I’m always quick to tell people that my counselling career has its roots in my own personal challenges and the decision to invest in my own personal development. My party trick is to keep a bag containing my decade’s worth of journals in my therapy room to show clients. Heck, I’ve even flipped open to a random page and read its contents – just to prove the point that pain doesn’t last, and that change – it is possible…

That’s if you put in the work. One’s approach and mindset changes everything. A point of crisis can be a point of opportunity. Rock bottom can be utilised as fertile ground. The example front of mind is my current full-time job. I was previously made redundant at the start of the pandemic. I thought I was screwed. It was the worst news – at the time.

Four years later I could not be more grateful that I got let go. Now I’ve got the best and longest-standing job I’ve ever had. I’ve been working hard for three years, saving my leave which I’m about to use this year. Where 2023 was about laying low, working three jobs and saving, 2024 is going to focus more on fun. My partner and I are going to walk the Camino de Santiago – the 800km pilgrimage walk from France through Spain.

Ok – there’s probably going to be equal amounts of blisters with fun. But hey, again – different strokes. I got the hiking bug after doing the Mt Everest Base Camp Trek in 2017 and have had my sights set on the Camio since then. There’s been a few wishful conversations with friends over the years – a month-long plus walk is hard to organise. But through holding onto the dream while not being forceful, I’m happy to say the stars still aligned to make it happen.

Beyond the trip, which starts in early May, I haven’t put much more thought into the rest of 2024. As travel always is, I’m sure going away will be transformative. Especially since I’m doing a pilgrimage that has a reputation for serendipitous encounters and helping people to find themselves. As I wrote in a post from 2017 reflecting on my Mt Everest Basecamp Trek: you get further by focusing on the next step rather than the destination. So let’s see where I’m at when I return.

I’m going to sign off by referring to the featured image I chose for this blog. It’s from a Winter Solstice Festival. The burning monument was filled with handwritten notes listing things that people wanted to let go of. Watching it burn amongst a silent crowd was deeply moving. I selected the photo because of some of the recent conversations I’ve had.

In one, we spoke about willfully burning forests as an aid to regrowth. The other was about stories that don’t serve us anymore. Writing my new book has highlighted how much of my life has been smeared by a negative self-concept and stories of scarcity. I’ve come so far, but I have still had a sense of imposter regarding my success. Well, not anymore. The slate is clean; the ground fertile. I’m laying the foundation and planting roots for my next evolution.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a fulfilling year ahead with equal amounts of growth and gluttony.

 

 

 

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