This is my second annual review (you can see the first one here).
The review will be divided a bit differently compared to last year, because I will base it on the annual plan I made in the beginning of the year. So I will review what worked and didn’t work based on my goals for the year plus any extra insights.
Overall what worked?
I believe it was a good year in terms of how I approached relationships with the people around me. Setting it as a goal in the beginning really helped me to keep it in mind. I think some of the relationships strengthened and I was more pro-active towards others. I still have a lot to learn on how to listen and give support. I still need to control myself when I’m not feeling particularly well or happy.
The death of my grandad made a strong impact and I am sure it will keep coming up. I do see him in the situations around me and ask myself “What would he do?”. However, on the positive side it reminded me how valuable people in my life are and that I need to appreciate the moments with them.
I am even more in love with my special half and very happy and grateful to have her in my life!
I have been using the mobile app Spendee for a full year now and it revolutionised my and Andra’s finances. Now we know where every penny goes and based on that we’ve created budgets and have a “save first” approach. This has given fruits and the year ended much better than it started, with removed debts and increased savings. The budgets also warn us when we are about to exceed one of the limits in place and we can act accordingly in the moment, rather than just register what already had happened at the end of the month when nothing can be done.
I’ve also read a bit on investing and have a simple system in place based on the book “How to own the world“. It is nothing extreme, but it is a first step to being more resilient to the changes that are happening nowadays.
Doing too much
As was planned in the beginning of the year, I managed to reduce a lot of the things that were straining my attention and draining my energy. I dropped a lot of the projects I was doing, removed my focus from climbing and music and ate reasonably, but no dieting or particular efforts in eating specific foods.
It has been extremely liberating and I urge anyone that is stressed to re-consider where their attention and energy is spent and to drop the things that are less important.
Health and training
2016 was a decent year for my training. I changed my program in an effort to try new things and I’ve mixed it up as part of my training for the cycling trip in Iceland. I didn’t make my own routine, but instead changed the program to a more challenging one with more levels to grow. It was a temporary step back as I have to get the necessary strength to match the expectations set in the program, but I believe it will be good in the long run.
Here is a list of my workouts which include swimming, cycling, strength training, rowing, dancing.
- January – 18 workouts – 16:04h – 9836 kcal
- February – 18 workouts – 7:32h – 4829 kcal
- March – 13 workouts – 08:28h – 3997 kcal
- April – 17 workouts – 20:30h – 10058 kcal
- May – 15 workouts – 11:35h – 4853 kcal
- June – 12 workouts – 10:07 – 4991 kcal
- July – 24 workouts – 124:19h – 59672 kcal
- August – 14 workouts – 17:06h – 5949 kcal
- September – 16 workouts – 17:10h – 6766 kcal
- October – 13 workouts – 14:40h – 6395 kcal
- November – 14 workouts – 13:45h – 6153 kcal
- December – 14 workouts – 09:39h – 5193 kcal
If you compare this with last year’s you will notice that the number of workouts has increased a lot, as well as the hours and the kcals expended. One reason is because I trained really hard to get ready for Iceland and the trip itself (in July above) was a massive workout on its own. However, going dancing has increased all of those numbers too since after August we have been going more regularly.
For the first half of the year, until July (before Iceland) I was doing really well with the meditation habit. I had about 130 consecutive days of meditation and I could see how that improved my awareness of my body, of how I feel, of my emotions and made me much more relaxed and I even slept better. But since I broke the sequence and then went to Iceland where it wasn’t that easy to keep the routine going I stopped doing it altogether. I know I am putting it in the things that went well because I did manage to keep it for half a year almost every day and I saw the benefits and realised it’s something good to do. It will be a thing to address again in 2017.
I’ve also developed a new habit of tracking my sleep and almost without exceptions I managed to track my sleep every single day since the beginning of the year using the app SleepBot. Here are some statistics:
- Number of records: 422 (this includes naps)
- Number of days: 358
- Total sleep time: 2593 hours
- Average daily sleep: 7.2 hours (this is with naps)
- Average sleep/record: 6.1 hours (this is from single records)
- Cumulative debt: 271 hours (this is based on my goal of sleeping 8 hours a day and those are the hours difference between my real sleep and the goal)
There’s obviously still a lot to be desired, but the first step is there and I am now thinking much more about my sleep and am more aware of how much I am sleeping. Using the Flux app to reduce my screen brightness has also helped a lot and I am planning to keep using that and hopefully re-establish the meditation habit.
There were obviously days when I had to travel and I couldn’t sleep as much or had to go late to bed, but those are unavoidable.
An interesting discovery I made while observing my sleep patterns is that when I get four or five days of 7.5-8 hours of sleep I feel extremely alert, energetic and productive as you would expect. But also I struggle to fall asleep in the evening and generally had to go late to bed to make myself tired so that I can then sleep again normally. I am not sure why that is, but maybe the meditation will help.
I’ve been tracking my time on the laptop (not on the phone) and here are some stats:
- Total tracked hours: 503h 1m
- Software development: 29% – 147h
- Communication (chats, email, work): 22% of which 89h 38m were spent using the Franz chat app both for work and communicating with friends and family
- Entertainment (watching videos on sites and on the computer): 11% – 57h 11m
- Reference & Learning: 6% – 30h 55m
I am using the free version so those categories are self assigned. I’ve also discovered how to be more productive by switching off all notifications on my laptop and turning my phone volume off. I put my working screen to full-screen mode and that way I can get deep into what I am doing and ignore all distractions. I’ve managed to thus narrow down my email checking to just 2-3 times a day versus more than 10-15.
A lot of travelling this year. I didn’t get to do the trip to Scotland for the extreme survival course (not the right timing), or the regenerative course in Bulgaria in September, but a fair bit of other travelling was undertaken.
UK (March) – I came back to the UK in March (from Bulgaria) and settled again in Sheffield while waiting for Andra to come back from El Salvador. For the rest of the year we comfortably settled back into a rhythm.
Greece (May) – In May I spent an amazing 10 days with a group of very dear friends and my father in Greece. It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had in my life. Very relaxing, delicious food, a lot of sleep and friendly atmosphere while re-charging with vitamin D at the seaside in crystal clear water. Sounds idilic and it really felt that way, but I must add the the people made it so, not just the place!
Iceland (July) – I cycled for 25 days around the island of Iceland. I’ve started writing a series of posts about the experience. It was an incredible adventure, taking me through many challenges and I am very grateful for having the opportunity to do it. Read more in the posts above.
Bulgaria (September) – Visiting for an old and dear friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful event at a very scenic and impressive venue – Kaliakra, Bulgaria.
Wales (November) – Visiting a friend for his birthday (a single Bulgarian among Romanians).
Bulgaria (November) – For my grandad‘s funeral.
Germany (December) – With Andra we spent Christmas in Nuremberg exploring the city and the biggest Christmas market in the country, creating warm memories and thinking of our families. I’ve also started exploring more of video editing with a short video about the trip. I enjoyed it as a project and am considering making more of them for future travels as a way to preserve the memories.
Scotland (December) – Joined with Aleks we went near Aberdeen in the hope to see the northern lights for new year’s eve. Even though we weren’t lucky enough to see them, we visited a beautiful castle and explored the city while retiring in the evenings at a beautiful cottage for some wine/champagne and warm food.
Since August I have been a full time employee at TribePad. This change added a lot more structure to my days and I have developed new skills which I am planning to extend in the new year. I believe I’ve added value to the company and am excited to continue my development and see what opportunities will come next.
While employed I am still keeping my existing clients and hoping to continue helping to solve their problems and do great work together.
Overall what didn’t work?
As much as went well last year, there are things that I left on the side and neglected. Partly intentionally, partly because I didn’t have the motivation, partly because other things took over.
As you might have noticed, since I came back from Iceland in July I have written very little. I’ve started a few posts about the trip and stop on the third. This is hopefully going to change and I want to finish them next year plus continue my weekly post as usual.
I terminated my daily reading habit in April. Now looking back I think it is because of burning out from the type of books I was reading – mainly “how to” and “self development” ones. This also fed into the writing as I take a lot of my ideas and inspirations from what I read.
As mentioned above even though meditation was a great discovery for me I stopped doing it and lost the benefits that come with it.
I didn’t get ill so much this year and my hay fever season passed with much less suffering than usual, however not all was great.
Ankle – I didn’t work hard on recovering from my ankle injury. I did visit a physiotherapist but then didn’t followthrough with the exercises she gave me.
Wrist – While preparing for the trip in Iceland I started using cycling shoes that clip in and fell from the bike because of them (and loading it with a lot of luggage). I broke my wrist and started the trip with it, but after I came back I have been working on recovering. The recovery is almost full.
Shoulder – A few months ago due to a combination of heavy push-up training and too much stretching I managed to injure my shoulder (tell me about it). The physiotherapist said that I have hyper-flexibility and pushed the shoulder too much which caused the injury. They said flexibility is a good thing overall but I need to control the movements more. I believe it is almost fully recovered as well because of my other training program which naturally strengthens it, but I still feel it weak at times.
This is my second annual review. I loved the benefits of writing the first one and that’s why I am doing it again. It helps me remember what was key throughout the year and stays as a record to remind me throughout the next one. It also highlights where I lacked discipline or things didn’t work out. I highly recommend the process to anyone. Maybe take the structure of this one or create your own. It takes around two hours to do but I think it is worth every minute.