Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 in Review, or Why I'm Not A Failure

In the hazy final days of December, where I've lost track of the days and it's normal to eat cheese straight from fridge at 10am, I get incredibly reflective. What was the year like? What do I want to do more of? What do I want to do less of? How have I grown?

I'm incredibly lucky that most Decembers I look back and say "This was my best year yet!" but there's no denying that that 2015 has been a challenging one. Work has been tougher than ever, my sister moved away (to Australia!), and I've been so focused on starting my own business that my social life has taken a big hit. Oh and I turned 30.

When I was 28, I thought a lot about what I needed to achieve before turning 30 and I posted a 30 Before 30 list. I set out with good intentions, but in June this year my birthday came and went with a lot of fanfare (I spent a week touring Scotland with pals eating seafood and drinking fizz) and not a jot of thought about the long forgotten list.

So what went wrong? I was careful to set specific goals (visit Highclere Castle), measurable ones (run 10k), achievable tasks (buy a watch - I did actually do that one). But despite setting myself up for success, I still failed.

I did not paint a portrait of my boyfriend, a ridiculous goal chosen following a moment of inspiration at the BP portrait award, despite the fact that I never paint. I did not cycle 50k, I don't even own a bike. I did not visit Highgate Cemetery, or shoot 30 portraits of friends, or write 30 letters.

Why? Because I'm simply not the same person who wrote that list. I am changing all the time. 30 feels so different to 28; I've moved house, changed jobs, made new friends. And there were books begging to be read.

Seeing that list of incomplete items made me feel like shit, like I couldn't even manage the most basic of tasks. It's so easy to focus on all the things we haven't done, to view ourselves as failures, to consider ourselves unable to succeed. It's a dangerous cycle because once we think we can't achieve, we don't bother to try.

However I refuse to consider myself a failure because, while I may not have made my own wine, I did loads of other stuff that wasn't on my list. So consider these my highlights of 2015 and a bit before then too:

  • I launched my own business as a wedding celebrant including a new website and brand design and I'm on track to double my business in year 3. Know someone who's getting married? Send 'em my way!
  • I started the Bookish Blether podcast with my awesome pal Nicola, and released an episode every fortnight without fail.


  • I was a bridesmaid at Lou's wedding. And my sister Fern's wedding. And Amy's wedding. All awesome, unforgettable days.


  • I maintained good strong relationships with my closest girl pals even though I live in London and they all live in Scotland (and now NZ and Mallorca). Here's us partying hard when four of them visited me in February.
  • I spent many lovely weekends hanging out in Somerset with my friend Kate (and her excellent children and beautiful dog) laughing, contemplating, setting the world to rights.
  • I bought a flat in Scotland with my sister.
  • I set a personal speed record while skiing in the Alps.
  • I got promoted and landed an exceptional, challenging, career defining project. At times I've felt out of my depth, like giving up, blamed myself for setbacks beyond my control. But 12 months in I can see that I've stretched myself a lot, learned to handle difficult situations, grown confidence in leading, and in saying no (probably the most useful word in a Project Manager's lexicon).
  • I learned to drive and bought a car AND fixed a coolant leak all by myself. Driving home for Christmas felt ACE.
  • I moved in with my incredible boyfriend and settled into our first home together in Crystal Palace
  • I held my shit together when my sister moved to Australia (just, there was a lot of public crying)
  • I read 52 books (I might squeeze in one more)
  • I mentored three kickass women who all got excellent jobs within 3 months and have since been promoted
  • I played at least 30 new board games (we are huge board game nerds)
  • I realised how much I missed studying and started a part time Diploma in Personal Coaching

So although I didn't bake 10 types of bread, or finish my patchwork quilt, nobody could say I've not been living a full life. It's easy to look back at our to-do lists and feel guilty about the things we haven't achieved but don't neglect the opportunity to see all the awesome stuff you've done instead. 

Now that's done with I get to do the really exciting bit - planning for 2016. I'm looking forward to blogging more, growing my celebrant business, working with new coaching clients, seeing where life takes me and my boyfriend. Above all, I'm determined to look back on 2016 and say "This was my best year yet!"

9 comments:

  1. Oh Hol, I'm sitting here reading this post on NYE and realising that you've put into words EXACTLY what I'm thinking about my 50 before 50 list. "What about all the amazing stuff I've dine that's NOT on the list?". Yeah. Lists. Like rules. Made to be broken. have a fantastic 2016 - Caroline xxx

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