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A Reflection on This Year

POSTED ON 19.12.2016

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about my new year’s resolution. I actually went back and read it quite a few times and there’s a reflection I’d like to make on it now that we’re drawing towards the end of the year.

This year, I wanted to set a goal for myself that was achievable, but not concrete. Here’s a snippet from my article:

The experts say you shouldn’t set abstract goals because you can’t measure your progress, but I’m beginning to disagree. A lot can happen in 365 days and I think that our goals for the year should be flexible enough to encompass the changes that we go through as we grow and mature and experience life.

I wanted to enjoy the process of this year rather than set any concrete destinations. I have to say that after setting a more abstract goal for myself, I don’t really think I can go back to making a neat list of new year’s resolutions like lose a kilo or learn a new language. Life is more complex than that, and isn’t that the beauty of it?

This year was undeniably a transitional year for Marco and I. It was marked by enormous changes in our lives. Job changes for both of us, a country change (and all that that entails!), obviously a house change, car (and side of the road) change.. but these are the surface level changes, the changes that you see.

There were also big changes within both of us. Interestingly, just recently, after having a couple of rather difficult weeks, we both had really similar experiences. We were going through a patch where everything just felt really messy. Both of us were run down and stressed out. I have to be honest and say that I thought I was on the verge of burning out again. I said to Marco one evening that I felt like I was on the edge of myself. (Which is the weirdest concept but that’s how I felt). Like I was on the brink of just completely burning out. Now, there are a million reasons I felt that way and I think the most important was that I was struggling to sleep which was a huge stress factor. But as soon as I got through that patch, I walked right into three epiphany-like moments. (I know, it’s really obvious that I’ve been reading James Joyce, but stick with me here!)

I won’t go into all three because they’re closely related and I don’t want to write a novella here! But basically, we went to a writer’s meet-up in Kilkenny about a month ago. There was a panel of writers talking about their experience and their work, and it was just this moment of sheer clarity for me. I’m in the right place, was the thought that ran through my head. I just knew, without a doubt, that I was on the right path. Finally.

Now, if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know it was not always like that. I actually started writing here because I had no clue what I was doing or where I was going and the lack of direction and purpose was killing me. So when I had this moment of epiphany, it was the most liberating feeling. I felt inspired and excited.

I think that it meant so much to me because it was so hard to get to this point. The last few years, probably since we left South Africa, really, have often felt like a constant struggle. This year, things finally fell into place. That’s not to say it was an easy year, not by any means, but a lot fell into place.

Marco had a similar moment of realisation for his own life and career after a particularly stressful patch, and we both agreed that you can only really appreciate breakthrough when you have to fight for it; when it’s hard-won.

I think that my message here is just to simply persevere. I think it’s Michael Hyatt who talks about inflection points. Often, when you’re having a really dry, frustrating, hard, stressful, or just plain difficult patch, there’s breakthrough around the corner. But you do have to get through it first. Just remember that just because you can’t see it right now doesn’t mean it’s not there. I felt, for so long, like I was wondering aimlessly through my life. At the beginning of this year, I could see a clear path for Marco and in a sense for our family, but I was struggling to believe that there was anything in this all for me as an individual.

The hugest encouragement, for me, is to see progress. At the beginning of the year, I wrote that I wanted to enjoy the process, whatever that meant, and I think that in a lot of ways I’ve been successful in that. But I’ve also learned the importance of tenacity, and fighting for the kind of life that I want to live. To be patient and wait for the inflection points and the breakthroughs, even when it means living out the hard times.

Life is not easy, and it’s probably not going to get easier. But we can enjoy the process, and no matter how dark things may seem, there’s always breakthrough on the other side.