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Reflections through the Winter Holidays

So, I started 2009 taking a few days away from the computer, the internet, and taking some time for myself, to just start thinking about what the coming year has in store?  It’s not often, in our always, on, always connected world, that we can find the time to just step back, and think, and reflect, without having a hundred and one thoughts at the back of our minds, of all the things we need to do, or people we have to respond to, and so it was good to be able to just switch off, step back, and unplug, knowing that it would just be the jovial, merry partying, and festival spirit being carried by the internet across the world, at this time of year.

Traditionally, the Winter, is associated with retreating inwards and being introspective.  To people who manage to notice the seasons, and the changes in pace of life, and the change in nature, Winter is traditionally a time of hibernation, and deep slumber, a time when we look inwards, and re-focus our dreams, and aspirations.  It’s a time that naturally lends itself to staying indoors, and having some quiet time, given that it’s so cold out, and it’s nice to be snug indoors.

Personally I like to enter the New Year, with a clear purpose, and sense of what my priorities are for the coming year, as well as clearing the slate from the previous year, and letting go of what’s not been working so well, and coming to terms with those failures too.

So 2008 was a “huge” year, for me, in so many many ways.  I’ve grown tremendously in the last year – personally experiencing and living through an entire roller coaster of emotions at times.   I’ve had some incredible highs, and some unfortunate lows.  Some of those low’s unfortunately, are still on a downturn, and until I get some closure on them, they’ll possibly continue to keep going downhill..  There’s not too much I can say about the low’s just yet, not until some things become clearer, and I know exactly what’s happening.  But the highs, equally, have been a real joy and pleasure to experience, and perhaps everything in nature finds it’s way of balancing things out – making sure we never get too high, or too low, before we get to experience the opposite.  I will gladly reveal all, as they say, when the time is right, for now, suffice it to say, it’s been a very very tough time for me personally and as a consequence, professionally.

I started 2008, with a very clear aim and purpose – “to restore my health”.

I wanted to become physically fit, wanted to restore my body to a health and vitality which I posessed perhaps 10 years ago now, and I wanted to overcome a physical condition that I’ve been fighting for over 5 years now.  No, I’m not talking about my obesity, which is also a challenge, but I’m talking about my Lymphatic condition..

Since 2003, during my stay in South Korea as an English Teacher, I went and got ill, with a condition, that has meant that I’ve had to spend the last five years, experiencing a series of recurring fevers, pains in my leg, and an abnormal amount of swelling in my left leg, which has made it challenging at times, to even find a pair of trousers I could wear, without my leg becoming completely swollen, and painful.

In the past 5 years, I’ve worked with traditional allopathic doctors, I’ve worked with healers from Mexico, with shamans from Peru, with acupuncturists, with homeopaths, and ayervedic physicians – but it seems that no-one was able to concretely deal with my illness, or I was unable to follow through with any medications, and courses of action that I was prescribed, given how much I’ve been travelling over the last 5 years.

End of 2007, I made the conscious choice to stay fixed in London, to not go gallivanting round the globe, and to do everything I could to get my leg healed, and get back into shape…  I continue on this journey, to this day, having now decided to go at this, from every possible angle I can.. I’m religiously following the advice of my allopathic doctor, and will be consulting with some of the other doctors and healers I’ve worked with before, to attack this ill health on all fronts.  But perhaps, my health is going to resolve itself in it’s own time, and I need to choose something more appropriate to focus on now??  I realised that perhaps part of the challenge is in not having something to get healthy for, I wouldn’t be as motivated.  Perhaps just being healthy wasn’t enough of a motivation, or didn’t support me enough in my goals?

Of course, I have other goals too – but they all took a back seat last year, whilst I put all of my time, attention and energy into getting healthy.   Result? I’m healthier now than I was this time last year.  (I’ve definitely lost more weight, and the swelling in my leg has reduced).  But I’m not there yet.. I’ve not reached the goal or target that I aspired to hit.  And to be completely honest, heading into 2009, with the same overriding focus, or theme just doesn’t appeal to me anymore..

The mission to get healthy, and recover completely is still there – but I don’t feel like 2009 feels like a year I need to devote to my health and wellbeing in the same way.  I’ve learnt heaps, in the last year, and if I just continue applying what I’ve learnt, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will eventually come out of this stronger, fitter, healthier, and more alive than I’ve ever been.  So if my primary focus for 2009 isn’t going to be my health anymore what is it going to be??  For the longest time, I just couldn’t understand which to choose..

I had my pick, narrowed down, to:
1) Personal Development – I could focus on learning new skills, learning new languages, studying something, etc..
2) Personal Relationships – Investing the time and attention this year, in getting closer with family, with friends, with colleagues, and with acquaintances.  Building my network deeper, and wider, and connecting with ever more people.
3) Get a career – Choose a career – and get laser focussed with it.  I’ve been drifting between projects and ideas, and volunteering, and helping people out for a number of years now, but I haven’t had that singularity of focus, on a single vision, or a single career path, that’s yielded the results I aimed for.  When I discovered recently that a friend of mine, who graduated in the same year as I did – is now a Vice President of the company he’s been working with.. I wonder where I would be today, had I just committed, and focussed on one thing already??  Conversely, if it weren’t for the variety and breadth of exposure I’ve had in life, I probably wouldn’t be the well travelled, well rounded, and lateral thinker that I am.  So there were pros and cons to my lifestyle choices.

Ironically, I’m drawn to getting a career.  I know – most people, seeing me living my life, travelling at a moments notice, the world at my fingertips, think that I have such a “great” life, and why would I ever want to give it up?? Well, I guess I’ve done all the travelling, seeing the world, and having adventures that I want to have for now.  Yes, the thought of living on a desert island, and enjoying warm weather, and a great laid back lifestyle is all good and all – but knowing that I could at any moment get myself a job as an English Teacher in Thailand, and be “living that life”, is just not appealing anymore.  I’ve been there, done that, got the T-Shirt, and bored of it already.

With that in mind, I’m making 2009, the year that I focus on my career, and my professional development, through working, and having a job.  It’s pretty easy to do the whole job thing, but for me, the real challenge is going to be in becoming the very best in my field.  I’ve often wanted the “regularity” that comes with having a nine to five, your life takes on a basic routine, and rhythm, that allows you a certain amount of freedom and flexibility that comes with the structure that a regular working day brings.  I’ve done many of those “exercises” where you imagine what you would do, if you had all the money in the world, and whilst in the past I might have dreamt of great worldly ambitions, and lofty goals, in truth, I don’t really want any of those things.  What I want is to “work”.  That kind of work that at the end of the day, you look back on it, and get a sense of satisfaction, knowing that you’ve done a days productive work.  It’s that feeling you get, after accomplishing something, knowing that you’ve completed something substantial, and completed something productive.

I haven’t yet, learnt to “monetise” my work, and my contributions, and perhaps it’s  a reflection of the fact that whilst my contributions are useful and of value, I still have some things to learn about business, and money.  My recent reading of The Richest Man in Babylon, has made me realise just how much I love and appreciate work, and how there’s some basic fundamental principles, of wealth, and abundance that I’ve been missing out on.  The most basic being – that if you don’t love your work, then you won’t be able to get really really good at something, and then be able to command a greater salary for being ever more proficient in your field, or area of expertise.

So, 2009, I’m going to focus all my energies on becoming excellent at faciliting online community.  Managing an online Community is challenging at the best of times, but comes easily and effortlessly to people who have mastered those skills, and know how to support their colleagues or constituents in generating content, and deriving value.  So with that in mind, this year, I’ll be focussing my time, attention,  and skills to both engaging more deeply online, and also to learning and developing the skillset, or toolset that’s required to be successful in facilitating online community :)  I look forward to seeing how accomplished I become in this field, by the end of 2009.  Wish me luck!!

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One Response to “Reflections through the Winter Holidays”

  1. as someone who understands what you’ve talked about and who has worked with you, I think the pursuit of working and developing online communities is a great idea. This is something companies like our’s do professionally, and there is no reason why individuals can’t offer this service on a freelance basis.

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