I always find that when preparing to bid farewell to one year and welcoming in the next we are presented with the best opportunity to close the door on some negativity and approach the start of a new year with an open mind.

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again. I’m currently sat writing this during that week between Christmas and New Year when no one really knows what day it is, thinking about the highs and lows of 2018, the effect the whole year had on me mentally and how I plan on making the most of 2019, the year in which I turn halfway to 50.

In this New Years Eve post I want to talk about how I have looked back on my year, the positive and the negative, where it has left me and how I plan to learn from the negative and make 2019 even better than the past 365 days. In doing so I hope that you can use the same methods to look at 2018 from your perspective and maximise the potential for success in 2019.

Looking At It Broadly

I’m really not sure what to make of 2018. If someone were to ask me ‘How was this year for you?’ – as i’m sure they will at the pub, I honestly think I would say it wasn’t great. I always knew this would be a different year to the previous three, and difficult for that reason. 2015 through to 2017 always had a big backpacker trip which was the focal point of the year, it was both what I was working towards and looking forward to. 

I knew after my travels of summer 2017 that there wouldn’t be another like that, which I was fine with, it was my own personal choice. However, it left me with a feeling of anxiety at the start of 2018, I didn’t know how I could make 2018 as good a year as the previous three and for that I began to wonder if my life had peaked.

When you have something as big and life defining as a backpacker trip, it was always the immediate thing I was drawn to when someone in the pub would ask ‘How was this year for you?’.

Obviously I was without that this year, and for that the first thought is a negative one. Which falls into the feeling of thinking my life peaked with those travels, which creates a loss of motivation and drive to keep myself on the right track for which those travels were a huge part of. As if I was riding a bicycle from 2015 to 2017 and stopped peddling in 2018.

Looking At It Closely

As the late great Robin Williams said in my all time favourite film, Good Will Hunting – 

‘You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.’

Just because we have a tendency to look at something broadly and tell ourselves it was bad, doesn’t mean it was. There are countless occasions a day has featured me watching West Ham lose a game of football, but the events of the rest of the day had me going to bed that night thinking it was a good one.

When you look at that broadly or from the eyes of someone that isn’t me but can have a good guess as to how my brain functions because of what I put on social media, they would probably assume I had a bad day because of it. The same can be said for 2018.

Looking at 2018 broadly, there was only one week where I was out of the country when I went to Las Vegas in September, which, don’t get me wrong, was awesome and I had a really fun time, but it’s not the length of holiday i’m used to having been spoilt the last three years.

Another example is an accident I had at the start of the year which resulted in a operation that had me bed ridden for practically two weeks – not to mention the stress of getting the operation booked in which was all so unnecessary.

However, with the negative of the operation and why I had it comes a positive – there’s no fear that such an accident will happen again! 

The Moments That Stand Out

All in all, a year is defined by the big moments we experience throughout it, and for me, the bulk of the ones i’ll carry with me happened in the summer.

Starting in May, I got to see the greatest rock and roll band of all time, The Rolling Stones. The legendary status of this band can’t be put into words, they’ve been at the top of their game for longer than my parents have been on this earth and a hot sunny day at The London Stadium watching them kill it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of.

Just a month later I took a trip to Wembley Stadium to see one of the biggest artists on the planet when I finally got to see Taylor Swift – someone I have not only wanted to see for a few years but someone whose music has helped me through some dark times in my life, a topic which I covered in a blog post The Power Of Music. As for the show itself, i’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what the audience was treated to – everything. 

Of course, the summer highlight for me will also be shared by most of the nation, The World Cup, in particular England’s unexpected success in it.

So many memories were created throughout this tournament, celebrating the joy of Harry Kane’s last minute winner against Tunisia, England’s thumping of Panama, triumph over Sweden in the only World Cup quarter final victory in my life time before ultimately falling short in the semi final – all of which I got to watch with friends i’ve known for such a large chunk of my life. Just incredible.

However, the absolute highlight of England’s World Cup Campaign for me was watching the national side finally win on penalties. The emotional roller coaster of that shoot out is something I will truly never forget.

The extra time that I struggled to watch, the anxiety every time a player from either side was stepping up, the fear that it was a repeat of the script we know all too well when Henderson’s penalty was saved. Not to mention the love I felt for Jordan Pickford when he saved Bacca’s penalty before Eric Dier scored the winner and sent the Weatherspoon’s where I watched the game into chaos, i’ve never know anything like that in my life, it was simply amazing.

It’s important to carry the feeling the big moments give us into the future. For example, after a promising World Cup from England and subsequent success in the UEFA Nations League which has seen the team progress to the Semi Finals in Portugal at the start of the summer I have decided to make the trip to support them one of my holidays for the year. 

The emotional response to watching the games in Essex has made me want to take that with me to the stadiums in Portugal if I can get a ticket or a fan park close by to create even more memories during a promising period for the national side.

We Either Win Or We Learn

I recently heard a quote that I want to start adapting into my every day life – We either win or we learn.

Of course 2018 had it’s highs, but that’s not to say that the lows weren’t there. 

For every move to London there’s a failed attempt at becoming a Pescatarian/Vegetarian, for every fun Saturday night out there’s a painful Sunday morning because I forgot to drink water when I got in and so on.

The highs are the wins and the lows are the learning. For me personally there was more learning than winning in 2018, and i’m okay with that.

During this nether region between Christmas and New Year I have already begun planning ways to turn those lessons into wins in the year to come, and I think that’s something we can all take as a mental health benefit before the countdown begins on December 31st 2018. 

What I Want From 2019

I’m not big on New Years Resolutions myself, mainly because during my 24 years on this planet I haven’t kept one of them.

But there are goals I want to set myself, call it the same thing as a resolution if you want, but to me they are different. 

I want to embrace my creative side even more than I have this year, I want to leave the country more than once and cross some new countries off that scratch map of mine as well as having another go at being a vegetarian.

However, above all that, I just want to have a good time, which is something I know we all want. As I grow older and older I feel that I have a better grasp on how to do just that and I look forward to seeing where I am in 365 days time when I will be 25 years old and ready to welcome 2020 into my life.

Happy New Year Everybody!


Looking Back On 2018

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