The year is coming to a close, and with it there’s a general atmosphere of slowing down, breathing out. I find myself wanting to tie up loose ends, to do a little revision of my experiences. The idea, I suppose, is to get some clarity and closure about what’s happened. To learn from what went well, from what didn’t go do well, and to begin the next year more strongly.
The biggest highlight of my year I think was the decision to convert my home’s master bedroom into a gym, with a squat cage, barbell, weights, a bench and floor mats. I bought them about 8 weeks ago, and I’ve improved my squats (around 40-50kg to 80kg yesterday) and bench press (40kg to 65kg) significantly.  This fundamental increase in physical strength has been a powerful learning experience for me. Even “learning” isn’t quite the right word. It’s know just about knowing how to do something. It’s about being able to believe in new possibilities. I think that was my real limiting factor. I now need to channel the lessons from that experience to the rest of my life, especially my work.
Another good experience has been deciding to open up my company blog to freelance writers. It gives me some ownership over the work of others, which is a nice privilege and responsibility that forces me to clarify my own principles.
I’ve also finally developed a GTD system that works for me- a mix of workflowy and trello. It’s really just a list of lists and a system of moving post-its from left to right (done), but it works well and I’m happy to have it.
I’ve met a couple of friends for coffee or dinner here and there, and it’s almost always been a good experience. My regret is that I feel like I haven’t done it enough. If I died at the end of the year, that would probably be my biggest regret- that I didn’t take more time to spend with friends.
I suppose my reasoning there is- I spent a lot of my teenage days just lounging and loafing with a bunch of people who were also just lounging and loafing with me (at least while I was with them- perhaps they were doing other things when I wasn’t around). And it was fun for a while but eventually became a huge waste of time. And I suppose I’ve been trying to live in a deliberately opposite manner- immersing myself in work, and refusing to loaf with my friends.
But once I write it down it’s clearly over-simplistic. My effectiveness at work is not purely a function of how much time I spend on it. There are diminishing returns past a certain point. I can be more effective at work by being decisive and focused. It’s almost like I’m just punishing myself by spending as much time on work tasks as possible, while getting just a passable amount of work done. And then I don’t have much real time for myself left over, and I feel like that’s my “punishment” or penance or something. My silly brain seems to think that I’ll be somehow rewarded or acknowledged for “making sacrifices”. But it’s not actually a real sacrifice. A better way exists. I can have the best of both worlds, I just need to be better to myself. The rules of the game are different from the silly rules of school and family. Work done is the measure, not time spent. And if I make myself a priority and carve out time for myself to have stress-free, guilt-free fun, then I can return to work with happiness and joy rather than a foreboding sense of obligation and duty, only tolerated because it’s better than being a worthless bum.
Also, it’s not like any of my friends are particularly interested in loafing any more, at least the way we used to. Times have changed. Our lives have changed. We’ve grown older. We have responsibilities now. A night out (or in) with friends is no longer about naughty escapism (and it wasn’t always that, anyway). Now it’s about sharing precious warmth and love, which we could all probably use a little more of. We can better trust ourselves now to be sensible, to know when to call it a night, to get back into the grind. We don’t have to keep beating ourselves up for the sins of our ignorant youth.
So the next steps there are to schedule more regular meet ups next year with the people I love. More dates with the wife.
Did I do a decent amount of writing? My experience is colored by the last few weeks, wherein I haven’t written a lot. But I I do know that July this year was when I was most disciplined about my writing habit. So that’s good, I should try to do that more next year.
(continued 8 feb 2016)
Well it’s been slightly over a month since the end of the year. I feel like I still haven’t fully gotten down to business. I’ve been cleaning stuff out, more than I usually do (which adds more credence to this idea of annual rhythms and so on). That should clear my head more for the work I have ahead of me. I’ve also been meeting people more frequently, because I realize that I didn’t do that as much as I wanted to in the previous 3 years. I did feel like I had to “detach” or “go monk” for a while, and I did, and I feel like I’m done with that now. I’m now looking to meet people roughly once or twice a week for lunch or dinner, or drinks afterwards, and it’s proving to be quite a pleasant experience so far. I’d like to keep that up. I’d also like to keep getting stronger with my lifts, and I’d like to keep working out.
The title of the post was originally “happiness and self-actualization”. It no longer accurately describes this post so I’m going to change it. I’ll write that post separately.
 I haven’t been doing a lot of deadlifts yet, or much of anything else. This will change.