I didn’t publish a year in review last year, but since my previous year in review left off with a bit of a cliffhanger (2017 in review – the year of the unexpected) I wanted to make an update with what has happened since then. To close the loop so to speak.
In order to fill the gap, this review is looking at both 2018 and 2019 and the journey I’ve made. And what a journey it has been!
It has taken me in completely new directions. Two years ago, I could never have foreseen where I am today. The shifts I have done, both internally and externally, have been huge.
My last retrospective was at the start of 2018, when I looked back at the year of my burnout crash. I spent almost all of 2017 incapable of working. Little did I know how long it would take me to get back on my feet for real.
Usually a year in review has sections like “What went well”, “What didn’t go well” and “What I have learnt”. This time, these labels don’t make sense to use.
What is a “good” and what is a “bad” event?
Often when we look back, we tend to frame the things that went the way we wanted as “good”, and the things that went in a way we didn’t expect, foresee or plan for as “bad”.
As if the good things are those we have control over, and the bad things are those we don’t. Or reverse, the things we can control become “good” and the things we can’t control become “bad”.
We tend to think that the things we want to happen but don’t manifest are “bad” or “failures”. And the unexpected becomes an adversary that can take you off your previously staked out path. As if that is always a negative.
But for me, the opposite have been true.
The goals I had when 2018 started failed miserably, and this was good. And the unexpected turned out to be opportunities for me to catch, blessings and gifts coming from seemingly nowhere.
Plans that failed
At the end of 2017, the goal was to come back to my old routines and career again. A gradual increase in work load from 25% to 50% to 75% and finally full time. Work in this case meaning coming back to dancing, i.e. training and getting back in shape in order to get dance gigs.
This didn’t happen.
Coming back to my previous life didn’t work well. I had issues with anxiety and even started getting panic attacks. I had very low motivation and struggled a lot.
I found myself in a difficult situation. The whole point of my recovery meant that I should learn to not push myself so hard, but in order to get back in physical shape I did need to push myself.
At the same time I wasn’t too surprised. I was processing a lot of emotions, some of which dealt with the deepest stuff of identity and self-worth.
My sense of self was attached to being fit and strong. Now I was neither. I needed to build a new identity and self-esteem based around something else, something that wouldn’t fluctuate.
I had huge help and many realisations during 2017 through RTT – Rapid Transformational Therapy. So emotionally I was making a lot of progress but not work-wise.
What happened instead
In 2018, I was approached by an agency that wanted me to join them as a developer. You know, like, become an employee and have a normal job. It was hardly the first time I was approached by recruiters or companies, but something about this time was different and I started to consider this offer for real.
I had never had a job before. Me, the perpetual freelancer. Wouldn’t taking a job mean that I’d give up and become a double failure? I had quite a bit of resistance to this offer. And yet there was something there that was pulling at me.
I needed a break, from so many things. I figured at least I would be able to relax about getting my bills paid and get some time to figure out things for myself.
So I accepted the offer.
This turned out to be a great move. I work at a place with awesome people. This has been a bit of healing in itself. It’s easy to underestimate the loneliness of working by yourself. And since I work as a consultant, I still work project based so I still get a freelancer-like experience. A win-win situation.
Investing in learning and growth
I took several online courses in 2018 that were very pivotal in my journey.
- Flow With Intention by Jess Lively
- Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
- Deep Abundance Integration by Steve Pavlina.
Flow with Intention focuses on managing your inner world and emotional state. This was very good for me since emotions has always been part of my weak side. I’m much more comfortable with the logical and brainy parts. This course made a difference for me to get a happier baseline and become more at ease with the irrational emotional world. I started to gain a sense of my intuition and get in touch with what I wanted deep inside.
Building A Second Brain was a game changer. In many ways. Both the course in itself with its content and methods. But also the people I got to connect with as part of taking the course. If you struggle with dealing with the flow of information in your daily life, I strongly recommend you take this course. No in fact: if you handle any kind of digital information, period, you should take this course.
Deep Abundance Integration was again more inner work than anything else. I’ve been a long time reader of Steve’s blog, but not always continuously. This course was a good help for me to rebuild trust in myself as well as life in general after falling very hard.
None of these investments were cheap. They were not easy decisions to make, considering I was at quite a financial low point when I made them. But for me they paid off in terms of results. I’m pleased with all of them.
In fact, this experience of seeing results based on my investments nudged me to me make one of the biggest monetary investments in myself so far: in 2019 I joined a paid, private, personal growth oriented community that costs 2K/year. So far, that is also looking to be a very worthwhile investment.
None of these have made me any money directly but that is not the kind of return I was expecting. I have invested in me, not a business endeavour. As a result I have grown, formed new connections, and gotten insights and realisations I could not have had by my own.
Wins: Starting to interact with the world
Both 2018 and 2019 were years where I started to stick my head out from my turtle shell and interact with people and the world. Simply stopping standing by the sidelines and watching, but instead engaging in conversations both offline and online.
This intensified in 2019, where I summoned up my courage to become more public with my thoughts. I started my newsletter in February. I began to publish the newsletter articles on this site.
Another thing was beginning to do public speaking again. I did my Impostor Syndrome talk at several occasions in 2019, with very positive feedback and results. I want to continue developing that aspect of me. It’s both enjoyable and challenging and satisfying at the same time.
Biggest win of them all: I’m back to health
I wanted to write already one year ago that I was back to full health. Technically I was – I was able to work full time again and that is when our health care system takes their hands off of you and says “Done!”. But compared to where I am today, I still had a long ways to go.
The last year have added the missing pieces to my puzzle, especially the last 6 months. I have managed to create a sustainable daily routine, with the right mix of sleep, movement, relaxation and good diet.
I have ditched alcohol and caffeine. Not completely, I’m not an absolutist, but as a habit. I’ll still have a green tea now and then, and I love me some dark chocolate (which sadly contains caffeine albeit in tiny doses). But my default if offered is to say no.
The biggest win is that I have started to exercise again. This time from a much healthier place of simply wanting to move, instead of conditional approval and judgement of my ok-ness as a human being.
I didn’t move a finger for 18 months while I processed all this tangle of emotions and associations I had regarding training and fitness. Returning to the changing rooms at the gym felt like coming home.
It has also given me an enormous energy boost throughout my week. I finally can truly say that I’m back to full health. I feel better than I’ve done for literally years.
Internally I almost feel like a different person too. So many thought patterns have been revealed and brought into the light. Some negative patterns successfully destroyed, others at least understood better. I have gotten to know myself on a deeper level. And I have learnt so, so much about our bodies’ response to stress and the role of our inner dialogue towards our well-being.
Failed aspirations and lessons learned
I’ve had an avalanche of inspiration and ideas come to me after returning to energy and health again. It’s like they have been pent up in the background while I was down, and now I’ve opened the floodgate to let them loose again.
Unfortunately, my new reality with having a job to manage does not give me a lot of resources left to handle and act on all my ideas and desires.
Several projects that I announced to my mailing list have not materialised because of this. I still want to do them. I’m not giving them up.
But I have to recalibrate what I’m capable of achieving in a certain time frame. My first and foremost priority is my health. I’m not going to stay up late on nights and weekends and sacrifice that.
I want to do too much. This is a good problem to have. Imagine not wanting to do anything, or not having any ideas or inspiration. That’s quite a different thing. I am grateful for this stream of ideas, even though it’s frustrating as well.
After some hard triaging, I’m going to put everything I want to do in a queue and start to go through it. One thing at a time. Instead of multi-tasking, serial single tasking.
What’s up ahead
My theme of the year is: Building a foundation.
This year will involve more of relationship building and getting to know people. The world outside of my little turtle shell turned out to not be so dangerous in the end, but full of smart, considerate and passionate people. I want to connect more, both deepening the relationships I have and getting to know more people.
There’s also some administrative and back-end work I want to do for this site and my business. I want to create a platform and base on which I can build for the future. I want to upgrade this site to something more polished and professional.
When I crashed I just dropped everything I had. Now that I’m back to strength, I need to pick up the stuff laying all over the place. Make some order, setup a structure and processes that reflects the learnings and the journey I’ve done these past two years.
I’m continuing my focus on writing and publishing. I began my newsletter as a trial and it turned out very well. I have no other goal regarding writing than to keep doing it based on inspiration, and to publish my thoughts in order to get feedback.
In a way, I feel like the ending of a big chapter of my life. Or the end of a story: “…and she lived happily every after.”
We all know that those kind of endings really are just beginnings of a new adventure. I’m at the beginning of the next chapter of my life.
I have no idea what is going to happen. And I’m looking forward to it. I’m inviting all good things beyond my control into my life.