This is my first ever attempt at writing an annual review. I have done a bit of research and have seen others doing it, but it has to be personal, so i will go over it as I find useful.
The review will be divided in two – answering the questions – What worked? What didn’t work? And each of those questions will have sub-items for the different areas I am considering.
Overall what worked?
It has been an amazing year in terms of some of my relationships with the people close to me and I am grateful for that. I am now in a relationship with a girl that completely supports me and that I love. I feel I can rely on her and work with through the challenges that life throws at me and those that I choose to take on.
Some of the bonds with my close friends have been strengthened too. That didn’t happen out of a planned effort, but it definitely taught me that strong relationships do require time invested.
I have also had to rely on many people throughout the year and this was not an easy thing for me to do. I am a person that loves to do everything on their own and this is something that had to be changed. In 2015 I was put in many situations where the help of others was needed and those people not only didn’t disappoint me, they made me realise how important the help of others is. How much more can be achieved if you work together with the right people, and surround yourself with the same.
The first article with which my commitment to writing began was on the 7th of April 2015. I am not a writer in my view, but I do find writing something close, something that helps me learn more about myself and that challenges me in a new way.
Since the 7th of April I have written 35 articles, compared to 3 during the whole previous year. I am now almost in a solid habit of writing that I plan to fully establish in 2016.
Some of the unexpected benefits of writing came in random situations where I entered discussions with people I did not know or with friends. I realised that what I had written about had sinked in and was now part of the thought process. And the strange thing about is that others find those new bits of information useful. In fact, there are few times where people wrote to me to thank me about a post, because it resonated with them and helped them overcome a difficulty or lessen a pain. Now this might not sound like a big deal, but for a random guy that does not write, for me this was mind-blowing. I never thought my writing could mean anything, and there it was, it meant something to other people!
A peak moment for me was when one of my friends reading the blog shared the “Not enough time” post. That guy got so inspired that he sent me a recorded message on Whatsapp saying that he was just watching a series (for the third time) when he read the article and that at that moment he decided to drop it, go to the library and study. That he was going to start his own blog (something he had postponed for a long time) and was going to start learning to play the drums. What more can a random guy with a random blog want from a set of words than to install motivation and dedication in another’s heart?
The writing has closely been linked to reading. 2015 was a life-changing year for me in terms of reading, because it is the year that I committed to actually reading regularly. In fact, since my commitment to reading at the middle of April I have read about 25 books. This might not seem a lot, but compared to 2014 when I read probably about 5 this is a huge increase of 500%.
Why is this important to me? It is not just for the sake of counting pages and reading. Going through those books fuelled my understanding and broadened my view. It also gave birth to many ideas that went into what I wrote about in the blog as well. After all these months I feel like I have grown a lot because of establishing this habit and the year for me was definitely better because of it. (See how I managed to read that many books consistently)
Health and training
My training has been good this past year. I managed to workout regularly. My strength has increased and training is now a completely ingrained part of me. The exercises I am doing have been predominantly body-weight based – strength, agility, stretching, balance. Some include hand-stand push ups (against the wall), core strength, harder variations of push-ups, a lot of stress on leg power. I have come out of the year feeling in a good shape, but there is much more that can be desired. Still it was a good year overall.
I am using an app called Endomondo to track and record my trainings. Below is a list of the workouts I have done through the year. The time and number of workouts are accurate but I believe the kcal average can really vary. The type of workouts included are hiking, climbing, calisthenics strength training.
- January – 14 workouts – 8:49h – 4760 kcal
- February – 7 workouts – 2:48h – 1351 kcal
- March – 12 workouts – 05:06h – 2461 kcal
- April – 14 workouts – 5:46h – 2561 kcal
- May – 9 workouts – 11:40h – 5640 kcal
- June – 13 workouts – 07:04 – 3414 kcal
- July – 14 workouts – 17:46h – 8777 kcal
- August – 14 workouts – 07:06h – 2925 kcal
- September – 11 workouts – 06:40h – 3302 kcal
- October – 13 workouts – 09:57h – 4809 kcal
- November – 9 workouts – 09:01h – 5475 kcal
- December – 10 workouts – 09:36h – 5415 kcal
I was scared of dancing. That changed 2015. Yes, I know it is silly, but it is true. It has always been a complex of mine to dance and with the patient attention that Andra has given me in the last two months I have overcome that fear by going to classes together. For me it is a great reward and something than brought me joy and satisfaction, so I am adding it in the “worked” category.
Although, at the end of the year I didn’t feel like I have travelled much, doing this review proved a bit different.
The year began in Paris on a short trip there where we managed to go around the city and see it in its other side – during winter.
Then in February I went on a coppicing and charcoal making course in Devon, UK while sleeping outside in the forest. It proved to be a great experience as the temperatures dropped at around -7C and I managed to test my three season sleeping bag to its limits.
Later, with my Andra we went to Barcelona and had really a great time there for about four days.
I have made around back and forth trips between Bulgaria and England in 2015. I also went twice to Greece and spend an amazing two weeks going around Romania both with friends and alone.
Cycling. A new experience for me was to tour with a bike around Bulgaria for three days. I went through the Rila mountain range starting from Blagoevgrad and finishing at Pazardjik.
Finally, in the last two months of the year I travelled a bit around the UK visiting Norwich, Brighton, Portsmouth.
The startup group
One of the things that really inspired me in 2015 is that I found a great team of people to work with. Having the right people around you can make the difference between going forward and running backwards. Having joined that small team has given me a lot of energy and desire to work on some new ideas in 2016. I believe that the beginnings of that were possibly because of the reading and studying that went on through the year, which opened my mind to the possibility of working like that.
2015 saw me going to two weddings, very important moments for some of my dear friends which I was grateful to be part of!
In November was the first time I became part of a startup weekend and met people that I now am working with.
Also in 2015 with Andra and many other people we managed to help raise money for the ICS charity and also to send Andra to El Salvador so that she can work really hard and help the locals – build schools, teach, but also to challenge herself and grow. I learned a lot during this time – about charity work, raising money and also found new friends and grew closer to existing ones.
Clients & professional growth
In 2015 my clients list grew and I had some really successful projects. Also I learned a lot about how to manage that business better – it was a year of work but also of much studying that will be applied in 2016.
I am happy that a slow process has began and I have moved my mindset (the foundations) about the business – what’s possible, where it should go and how it should be done.
I’ve learned more about the value of saying “no”, about standing your ground and know what value you can deliver and when it is better for potential clients to go elsewhere.
Some incredible resources have come to my attention and I started following people that taught me a lot. So much in fact that they made me feel like a little baby that didn’t know anything. Now, after consuming a lot of information throughout the year I am eager to put my sleeves up and start doing.
Overall what didn’t work?
Food/diet + weight
Eating healthy has been something I struggle with all my life. I started overeating when I was young and it is a continuous battle for me. Having a lot of other projects going on also doesn’t help and in 2015 I had largely neglected that part of my life. That is not to say that it was all bad, but that it wasn’t to the standard I wish it was.
The previous four years saw me maintaining an average weight of about 75kg whereas I am currently 85kg. This makes a big difference to my agility and performance in sports.
Compared 2014 when I was probably at my all time peak in terms of climbing performance, 2015 was a very low one. I didn’t climb much and my strength, technique and mental space went obviously down. Since climbing is something I love doing, something that gives me energy I have put it in the “didn’t work” section. Still it is not all dark, since I have been climbing more regularly now in the last month and a half.
In May 2014 I injured my left ankle really bad by stepping wrong on the curb of the side walk. It almost broke (luckily it didn’t). All throughout 2015 I have had intermittent pains that came and went. Sometimes the pain was so hard that I couldn’t step on the foot, other times I had no pain. This has been a limiting factor for me in terms of longer walks and hikes. I did take measures and went to a physiotherapist who told me that everything that needed healing has healed but that now I need to build up strength. I have begun exercising as prescribed but not regularly and consistently enough, so this will be a big thing to work in 2016.
In 2014 I spent almost the entire year practicing playing the classical guitar regularly and that gave me great joy. I strongly believe that a person should be skilled in multiple things to expand their creativity, combinative thinking and problem solving. Also to allow them to appreciate more. 2015 saw me completely neglecting playing the guitar and it is something that I would love to work on and improve.
Even though I managed to increase the number of clients I had in 2015 financially I didn’t meet my targets compared to 2014. This is also due to losing some of the regular work I was doing and not replacing it appropriately.
My overall efficiency was lower than I wished and I really didn’t push enough my professional development and convert it into financial growth. I studied a lot and 2016 should show the results and compensate for 2015.
Doing too much
Saying all of the above, I think one of the biggest problems I’ve had is that I am doing too many things alone and in number over a small period of time. This lead to a few burnouts throughout the year and in 2016 I want to have focused time laps – basically to focus on one main thing for a set period of time and then queue the others after. Obviously the little habits will run in parallel, but having too much clutter has been a major issue for me.
Here are some of the people that inspired me to write this review and other useful articles related to this.
This is my first ever annual review. There is much to be improved, but it is a start and the next one will hopefully be better, because now I know what to keep an eye for. Also doing this review has helped me greatly to recognise many achievements and beautiful moments that happened in 2015, things that otherwise get hidden under the cloak of the last few days of the year – something that is not fair to define the whole taste of all these various experiences. Accepting my weaknesses as well allows me to better invest my efforts in what needs improving.
Would you consider writing an annual review (not necessarily publish it online)? What’s stopping you?