My New Year’s Reflections (yes, I know it’s October)

Today is an important day for me. It’s a milestone, a reminder and a benchmark. That is why I was compelled to pull something together at the very last minute to share.

One year ago, I moved out of my flat and in to a professional house-share in Birmingham. I left my great job at BMet, I started a new one at Transport for West Midlands, and I came to terms with the fact that, for the first time, I was flying solo in Birmingham.

For many I think that the New Year will be the appropriate time to reflect on the year that has passed and its contents, and I will do the same thing this December (from New York city, nonetheless). But when something happens in your otherwise mundane life that throws everything you knew and had within your control out of reach, you have to create a new measurement; whether it’s losing a loved one, ending a relationship, starting a new job, moving to a new city etc.

These pivotal moments in our lives become benchmarks for us to measure performance against. I asked a random selection of people what they use as milestones to measure against and these are some of the most common answers:

  • Birthdays, particularly significant ones
  • Anniversaries of loved ones
  • Relationship/wedding anniversaries
  • Work anniversaries
  • Joining groups/organisations

Although some of the people I asked did cite New Year’s Eve as their reflection point, it’s refreshing to see how many other people base their achievements and progress around other benchmarks. It shows that there are other points in our lives that we can and should measure against, because these events are crucial in developing us in to the people we want to be.

As I’ve alluded to, my first two years in Birmingham were spent with a group of people that are no longer a part of my life. Although I am most grateful for their support and company in those two years, I have to acknowledge that I became too stagnant in comfort. I didn’t do much outside of my home life, I didn’t know anyone else, I just existed within that network. So when I suddenly experienced a triple whammy – new job, new home, new network – I was quite unsteady on my feet and didn’t think I could do that well on my own.

When I’m inclined to sit down and think about it – such as a day like today – I realise that I’ve done quite a lot over the past 12 months. I’ve:

  • Widened my personal and professional network
  • Made new friends
  • Spent quality time with existing friends
  • Been travelling through Italy
  • Discovered new places in the UK
  • Visited family in Ireland
  • Lost 1.4 stones in weight
  • Learned new skills in the workplace
  • Taken the plunge in seeking a new occupation (despite a short tenure at TfWM)
  • Seen some brilliant live performances, including one of my favourite comedians and my favourite band
  • Been the Best Man for my best friend at his wedding
  • Become a self-sufficient traveller on the Underground, something I never saw myself doing due to anxiety
  • Performed stand-up comedy to over 400 people at the Glee Club – an audience level I’ll likely not see again!
  • Ventured in to a new form of poetry, and had a positive reception
  • Joined the Town Hall Symphony Hall Youth Panel
  • Continued to be a member of the Future Faces network
  • Planned a solo trip to the US and Canada (my first Christmas away from home!)
  • Become more honest with myself, and made important decisions about my health

I’m sure there are many more things that I could list, but these are the immediate ones that came to mind. The last twelve months have flown by and today I am feeling a small sense of pride, not only because I have done more than I thought I would, but also because I know there are people in my network who have supported me in this journey, and I get to call them friends.

It’s so easy to get caught up in daily stresses and the endless cycle of questioning our self-worth and quality of life. This is why having benchmarks to be able to look back on and measure against can be really useful, especially if that benchmark was lower than the point you are at now. The majority of the time, if you look hard enough, you will find plenty of things that you have done since your reference point that are good and have improved your quality of life. I’m well aware that tomorrow I could go back to being the Northern mard-arse that everyone knows as my personality, but just for one day, I am going to feel proud of myself.

I encourage you all to look back on something drastic in your life and count the steps you have taken since then – and feel pride as you say ‘I made it here’

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