To finish up my series of looking back at 2015, I decided not to add yet another dull “look at everything I did last year” post to the blogosphere. Instead, I wanted to put together a few things that I liked about 2015 into one post. it’s random, it’s a little odd but I hope it’s entertaining and maybe even a little bit inspirational.
2015 was not the best ever, but that’s ok
Chatting with friends, it seems that few actually had a great 2015 and for some, the loss of friends or family members made it an exceptionally difficult year. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have any truly tragic events happen, but I feel as if it was a year of status quo. It’s not death, but status quo which can be most damaging to us and is a trend that I need to turn on its head in 2016. By this I mean that everything chugged along in a predictable way and, even worse, I didn’t really try to go out of my comfort zone as much as I would have liked. I don’t mean in terms of travel, but in life. The website is doing well so I haven’t seen the need for any changes, my personal life is going fine and once again, I didn’t see the need for any changes. But nothing stays static, life is dynamic and if we don’t continuously change and evolve, then we will be left behind. It’s a rut that I fell into when I was working a traditional 9-5 job and it’s not a mistake I wish to repeat. So in 2016, I will be doing some things the same both professionally and personally, but I’ll also be thinking more creatively. I’ll be trying and doing new things, some successfully and some not, but the most important thing is to have tried them. If we don’t shake things up once in a while, the dust on them grows too thick to ever be able to wash off.
Business is business
For 12 years, my entire professional career, I worked for non-profit trade associations. These organizations work to serve their members and that is their primary focus, not making money. Within those organizations I worked in departments that were actually charged with spending as much money as possible. This life experience in no way prepared me for the sometimes harsh environment of the business world. As it turns out, there’s a reason why I was naturally drawn to non-profits. I really enjoy helping people first and making money second. I’ve adapted though, mostly, but the idea of making harsh decisions based entirely on money is still very alien to me and can make my business dealings at times difficult.
Power of outrageous ideas
We all see insanely successful people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and think they must be inherently different from us in ways we can’t change. Part of that may be true, but more than anything what helped propel people like them to extreme success is having the courage to be daring. No one ever succeeded by sitting on the sidelines and hoping that something good will one day happen to them. No, instead you have to get out there and make it happen, you have to dare to be outrageous and must not fear failure. That’s the only way in my opinion to be successful and happy, no matter what you’re trying to do.
This photo (Egypt)
My first trip of 2015 was also one of the most important to me personally, finally traveling to Egypt. I’d long wanted to see the ancient wonders of Egypt, just like everyone else, but nothing really prepared me for the realities of it. Even though I’d read so much about the experience, there truly is nothing like standing in front of the pyramids for the first time, or sailing leisurely down the Nile to visit more out of the way ancient sites. I usually enjoy all of my trips and travel experiences, but there really is something special about Egypt that sets it apart from almost everywhere else.
Getting older is (sort of) ok
I’m not one of those people who lies about their age or who dreads every birthday, but I will admit to a certain uneasy hesitation as 40 creeps up. In just a couple of weeks I’ll pass along into a new decade, but I’m pretty sure I’m ok with that. When I was in my 20s, I couldn’t have imagined a better time in my life until I was in my 30s and realized that the 20s were kind of awful. My 30s were an interesting decade, lots of peaks and troughs, with more lows than highs at some points, but it was a transformational decade. I will always hold the 30s in high regard for the years when I took more risks than I ever have before and when I took control of my life instead of letting others control it for me. With that as a prelude, I can only wonder with eager anticipation what the 40s have in store for me.
I REALLY like Australia
In May 2015, I once again traveled to Australia on my third trip to the country. I love Australia – a lot. I just click with it on almost every level and it’s a country I know that I will never ever tire of visiting. I’m not sure what it is exactly, whether it’s the beautiful natural escapes, the cities or the people, but whatever it is it appeals to me on a very base level. It’s also massive, deceptively so, which means I could spend the rest of my days exploring it and still not see everything that makes it special. I really do hope I get another chance to visit in 2016 and to further deepen my knowledge of the Land Down Under.
Personal change is possible at any age
A zebra never changes his stripes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, blah, blah, blah. Modern man, it seems, has gone to great lengths to convince himself that we are who we are and that nothing can change that. While true in some respects, in others that’s complete nonsense and 2015 was a great education in that for me. Both my partner and I have gone through a lot of personal trials over the last 3-5 years, and instead of letting them permanently scar us or even destroy us, it’s made each of us better, stronger in ways that we didn’t even know possible. I’m nearly 40 and I’ve never been happier in my life, whether it’s with my health, my work or just life in general. I could not have said that even three years ago, but a series of personal changes I made led me to the place where I am today. Life isn’t perfect, but there are many things we can do ourselves to change that and make it a little bit more perfect.
Most people are good
In a world that is dangerous, where terrorism seems to be on around every corner (thanks cable news networks!) it’s easy to lapse back into old ways of thinking. It’s easy to say that everyone who is an OTHER, who is DIFFERENT, is inherently bad and wants nothing more than our own personal destruction. In fact, that’s not true. If travel has taught me any one thing, it’s that the vast majority of people – we’re talking 99.99% here – are good. Not only are they good, but they’re a lot like you and me. They want the same things out of life, jobs, happy families, some small perks and so on. The world is in fact NOT a dark and scary place, it’s a wonderful one and it’s imperative that we don’t let a very small minority and the fear mongers make us lose sight of this very important fact.
This photo (Peru)
I certainly never expected that I’d visit Peru and Machu Picchu when 2015 began, although I’d long wanted to visit it just didn’t seem like it was in the cards logistically. In fact I even included it in my list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turn 40, which is how the trip itself came to fruition. I made that list not in an effort to literally accomplish everything on it – I knew from the beginning that wouldn’t be possible. Instead it was a way to personally challenge myself and to keep moving forward. Stagnation is lethal, and it’s experiences like this one in Peru that keeps life vibrant and interesting.
If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not
This is a good rule of thumb for any aspect of our lives, from travel to more personal situations. Humans are smart, even if we don’t think that we are, and subconsciously we know when something just isn’t right. This happens all the time when we travel, but it can also happen in the workplace. There were several times in 2015 when I committed to a deal or a project that just didn’t feel right, but which I thought I could make right. I was wrong and many times I wish I had listened to my gut instead of moving forward. Just because something is offered doesn’t mean it’s right for us and many times in life, it’s what we turn down that is more important than what we accept.
I like my beard
Three years ago I started to grow a beard because I was planning a trip to Antarctica and it just seemed like a good idea. Yeah, I know I’m weird. I never had one before and I felt like I needed a change in my appearance. It was a lark and I never expected to keep it for very long, but 3 years later I still sport it proudly. Now it’s hard to imagine not having it, it’s become a part of my look that I like and has even given me some extra confidence. So, for the time being at least, my beard is here to stay I’m happy to say.
This has ALWAYS been a problem for me; I remember my mom telling me on a daily basis that I needed a thicker skin. So while understanding the nature of this personality fault is nothing new for me, learning how to deal with it effectively is. Perhaps at age 39 I’m finally growing up, but I’ve noticed recently an ability to let more things fall of my back and to hold my tongue in instances I wouldn’t have just a few years ago. This may not be a big deal for most people, but for me it’s practically a psychological breakthrough.
There’s always more to be done
I often tell people that since my job change while I’ve never worked harder that I’ve also never been happier, which is true. If I’m awake I’m usually working which has become a bit of an issue. I need to realize that just because there is more work to be done, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be done right away. Everyone is busy and there is always something everyone could be doing, but that doesn’t mean it’s critical they do so.
This photo (Queensland)
A few paragraphs above, I wrote about my love of Australia and I think this photo shows why – but not for the reasons you think. Yes, the Whitsundays of Queensland are devastatingly beautiful and includes scenes like this one here that seem almost fabricated. Up until my trip to Queensland, most of what I’d seen around Australia was very similar. Even though I’ve been to every Australian state except for one (and have enjoyed them all) I became familiar with desert scenes, red mounds of dirt abutting the sea and cities that while fun and full of energy, seem brand new. Queensland was unlike any other destination I’d visited in Australia. The tropical scenes, like the one shown here, absolutely took my breath away, but so did the jungles and rainforests. I know Queensland also has the Outback, but I never saw that. What I did see was a side to Australia that intellectually I knew existed, but nothing prepared me of the raw emotion of actually experiencing it.
Attitude is everything
I am definitely NOT a new age, hippy dippy type of person but this year I began to appreciate the fact that one’s attitude and outlook on life is an essential component to success. Look around at your friends. Do the people who complain and whine always seem to have bad things happen to them? What about those happy more optimistic people, everything seems to go their way, doesn’t it? This isn’t a coincidence and indeed one’s attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to success. If you never expect anything good to happen, it never will.
What lessons did you learn in 2015?