Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

I owe this one to Seth Godin. I was reading ‘Tribes’ and this was a part that stuck out for me.

how was your day

“How was your day?” – Its one of those common every day questions that people ask, part polite interest and part conversational opener. Standard responses are usually expected to be positive. The conversation then moves on.

But what if your day wasn’t fine? You can have a moan and the relationship you have with the listener will depend on the level of sympathy/interest you gain. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you wet your face. Nobody really likes listening to whining. But we all have days when things don’t go so well and sometimes a good rant to a friend is a cathartic process that leaves you feeling better and as long as you can do it with sufficient wit or interest (and not too often!) means the listening party doesn’t suffer too much.

But what of your day isn’t fine and your they haven’t been for some time? How you answer this question in public does not need to be the same as you how you answer it to yourself. But if your days haven’t been fine it’s what you do next that’s the important bit. Many when asked how their day was, answer “yeah fine,” almost by rote and move on to the next piece of conversation.

I’ve met enough people who hate their jobs, hate how they look, don’t like their health or are in relationships they don’t like. Yet they keep on doing the same job, the same diet,  the same lifestyle choices and stay in the same relationship. If things aren’t going well the first thing to do is to identify it. Then decide if it is a transitory thing or whether it’s here to stay. If its transitory, how will you work through it? If it’s here to stay, what are you going to do about it? It’s up to you to sort out what you will do to turn it around. Waiting for someone else to show up and do it for you is likely to be a long wait.

As I’ve got older I’ve become less tolerant. I don’t have time for people who procrastinate and I get annoyed with myself if I find I’m doing it. I’d rather get on with things than spend hours brooding about them. Planning strategies and the time it takes up is fine. Paralysed by indecision isn’t. Life is too short (and I’ve got fewer sands in the timer than I used to have) so upwards, onwards and deal with whatever needs dealt with. That gives me time to do the good stuff, rather than just deal with the bad stuff.

When things get on top of me, there are a few strategies that I’ve found help me out.

  • Think first, react second. Be logical.
  • Break down big problems into various smaller ones and then deal with them one by one.
  • Have I had any similar issues in the past for any experience I can draw on?
  • Remind myself I’ve dealt with worse in the past and got through it.
  • Look for the positives in any situation, there are always some.
  • If a friend came to me with the same problem, what would I advise them?
  • And how pissed off would I be if they then went and did something different in the spur of the moment which made the situation worse?

So how was your day? It’s a question we should ask ourselves every day and answer it honestly. And if we don’t like the answer then time for a serious look at what we are going to do about it.

Gym fitness at 50 plus

Posted: March 8, 2014 in Fitness, General, Musings

I came across a couple of websites that caught my eye while meandering across the interwebs.

Fit After 50 and Fitness After 50.

My first thought – Only in America…

But that’s probably a bit unfair. The idea of having a gym with a minimum age limit of 50?  The demographics make sense, the 50-65 age group tend to have a bit more disposable income and at a complete guess I’d expect them to be a bit less demanding to deal with when it comes to fitness. On the surface both the organisations I’ve noted seem pretty similar except the first is a stand alone business and the second is a franchising opportunity.

I’m slightly uncomfortable with the marketing behind these organisations, yet at the same time can’t help but think they may just have hit a good idea. A lot of the focus seems to be on potential customers fears:

  • Apprehensive because you didn’t know how to use equipment or properly perform exercises?

  • Overwhelmed in the gym without expert guidance and personal attention?

or :

  • The Welcyon exercise machines are ideally suited for aging adults, including those with health issues.

  • To minimize the risk of injuries, Welcyon is equipped with machines that provide stable, controlled, objective, and reproducible exercises.

They both seem to pick on the potential customers’ fears or lack of confidence. I know I’m not quite over the 50 mark yet but I don’t want to be choosing my fitness options on the basis of which one I’m less scared of. But there are others out there who feel differently, I’ve certainly seen enough people in gyms moving timidly from exercise machine to exercise machine clearly not confident in their abilities and clearly too shy to ask anyone for help. So a gym that provides a safe environment for that kind of person to be confident in, is that such a bad thing? Looking at  it like that it doesn’t sound unreasonable.

Both set ups offer group involvement. Fit After 50 has a wide array of classes and Fitness After 50 promotes its lounge area for sharing a coffee or a game of cards after a – well it doesn’t really say after an anything. Just that it has an area to socialise in. To me it sounds a bit like an old folks home at this point.

The Welcyon site has a photo tour of the gym and describes it as smaller and more intimate than a normal gym. The pictures don’t fill me with confidence, the clientele look a good bit older than in their 50’s. Or perhaps they just had tough paper rounds when they were kids. Lots of machines and no pictures of free weights.

Fit After 50 doesn’t have a photo tour, but at least there’s a picture of someone using some dumb bells (albeit very small ones). One thing that amused me was at the About You section you get to rate your fitness level – beginner or intermediate. No other options. I think that sums up where they see their client base coming from. It’s not over 50s who are training regularly and already in good shape, but those who aren’t at that level and without the self-confidence to go to a mainstream gym and train there.

One thing missing from both sites were any details of costs, there is talk of plans and of course its the usual ‘contact us for pricing information’. So I can’t give detail on what they charge. I suspect it will be above the usual costs for a standard gym as the marketing focus is on what they offer that regular gyms don’t and not about cheap prices. If you want a comfy area where you don’t need to worry about your personal fears, that is bound to cost extra. They are targeting a niche market and its unlikely they do that on the cheap side.

I can’t blame them for what they do, business is business and all that. But for me, I think I want to ensure I’m still looking for a box well above ‘intermediate’ when it comes to assessing my fitness rate in years to come. Neither of these locations do anything for me other than fill me full of fear! All I see is ‘attempts at fitness for old people before you die’ – that’s not what I’m looking for. Instead of living a younger life, that is living an older life. Count me out.

Holiday Booked – Mexico!

Posted: March 2, 2014 in General, Musings

One thing that always helps me is having something good to look forward to. It lifts my spirits and gives me something to aim for. One of the best for me is booking the annual holiday and commencing the countdown to have everything in place for when it comes round. This weekend the Fair One managed to find a good deal for the Excellence in Cancun, Mexico. We’ve booked it and the count down commences, yesterday was exactly 26 weeks to go.

Excellence-CancunHow good does that look? So come the end of August we are off for two weeks in the sun, with lots of different restaurants to choose from and lots of cocktails too. And also one key requirement – it must have a gym.

Excellence-gymOK, so its hard to tell exactly everything they have, but they will have enough to get me a workout. I suspect a TRX set up won’t be there but I’ll find enough.

 

So what’s so special about booking a holiday? Aside from planning it the following all goals suddenly appear:

  • I want to look good while on the beach, that means the desire to have a ;beach body’ kicks in, my training and diet both take a boost.
  • My mood improves. If something isn’t going so well just now, having something to look forward to reminds me that whatever the current problem is its only temporary.
  • The prospect of two weeks of good weather cheers me up when looking out at the rain at home. (Definition of summer in Glasgow is the rain isn’t so cold as it is in winter)
  • We take the opportunity to improve our wardrobes. So a few clothing treats in store for us.
  • My fitness journey started with some holiday photos, it’s a great motivator to see how far I’ve come since then.
  • Its two weeks away from all the hassle and drudgery of the normal existence to just chill out and cherish each other’s company in an idyllic setting. How can that not be special!

Our moods both really picked up once we booked the holiday yesterday – and there was no way we weren’t making the gym today. See what I mean, it’s started already!

Only 25 and a bit weeks to go…

It was with a wry smile I read this article on the BBC website. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘slimming industry’, in fact I can’t think of a better example of a business which deserves to be pummelled out of existence. If that sounds a little harsh then let’s have a look at the evidence. If the slimming industry model actually worked, if the products were successful,  we wouldn’t have the industry. Instead we would have fit and healthy people. The slimming industry model is built not on customer success, but instead on customer failure. According to research, 77% of people who buy slimming industry products gain all lost weight within 5 years. I can’t think of any other business where a 77% failure rate would be accepted.

The slimming industry makes its bucks by selling dreams – not solutions. Well, not solutions for 77% of the customer base anyway. Buy a fad diet and the products, lose some weight, finish fad diet, put some weight back on again, buy another fad diet and more products. Repeat cycle for the rest of your life, or until you don’t care any more and decide being fat and unfit is acceptable. Wherever there is a fad diet there is someone making money. Buy the book, the DVD, subscribe to the monthly update, the supplements and then wait for the next one to come out that is EVEN better (which is normally not too hard a promise to keep). The money (and we’re talking billions here!) comes in from the repeat failure of customers unable to make a long-term difference. A significant part of that is down to the customer looking for an easy way to have the lifestyle they want while not putting on weight. ‘I want to eat burgers and pizza every night and still look great.’ That is never going to work and anyone who says its possible is lying or more likely about to try to sell you an alternative. Yet the slimming industry keeps on flogging the dream and the suckers keep paying for it.

There is a Weight Watchers group that meet weekly at the gym I go to. I see them sitting around in the reception area. One slim woman with big hair, perfect make up and a painted on smile clicking away on a laptop while taking money, one set of scales and a bunch of overweight people sitting about. There have been a at least a few times I’ve thought of saying ‘instead of sitting on your ass in the reception area why not go into the gym and maybe move around a bit?’ But that would be rude and probably hurtful. I believe that most of the people attending these meetings think that by showing up and paying their fees they are already making a positive step to lose weight.

weight scales

So now Weight Watchers are feeling the pinch themselves. They have fallen victim to the amount of fitness and diet apps out there. We no longer have to sign up to Weight Watchers and attend meetings, we can fool ourselves from the comfort of our own couch while eating potato chips that by downloading an app we are living a more healthy life. It won’t make us any healthier but at least it might make the snake oil market a good bit more competitive which will allow people to have more money for their medical bills when their health fails from following the fads of the slimming industry. Looking at the company statement the writing has been on the wall for WW throughout 2013. Growth in quarters 2013 went 10.9%, 6.6%, 0.6% and then in Q4 down 5.3%. And I’d also love to know what was behind:

Excluding the $14.5 million over-accrual reversal benefit associated with the settlement in Q4 2012 of the UK self-employment tax litigation

Looks like they got off far lighter than they expected for some tax ‘issue’, or perhaps just a clever way to defer some profits to reduce tax dues for the year? Who can say? For me, and I’m not an accountant, the big thing in the statement was how attendance had dropped from 50.7m to 42.9m in one year. So over the course of 12 months approx 1 in 6 people who had been paying Weight Watchers decided to stop. There is no business on the planet looking at that statistic that isn’t thinking ‘we must do something about this’. It’s also a chance for a positive change. Its their big chance to do something the slimming industry has never done – provide an honest product that makes a lasting difference. I’m not holding my breath though.

One last thing, if you ever get the chance to see the BBC series The Men Who Made Us Thin, then I really recommend you do so. A fascinating documentary on the marketing that leads us to purchase products from the slimming and health industries and also some of the history behind it. A really good series. You can find a write-up of it here.

That this is a day late probably sums up everything about my attitude towards Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I am against a day which celebrates love and being close to someone, it’s just that I can’t be bothered with the tacky marketing and the doing something on the day because s/he will be massively offended if I don’t.

February 14th this year saw me at work all day, followed by an appointment with the trainer at the gym. Roses, cards with high content of pink and cute did not feature throughout the day. Was Mrs. Mid Life Female bothered about this? Not a jot. A few years ago we managed to find decent cards for each other but not these days. We decided to stop buying cards for each other when we agreed we couldn’t find any we liked, the gesture becomes a bit empty when its preceded with an apology about ‘how it was th best card I could find’. For the past few years all I can find is nauseating slush e.g.

valentineslush

You have got to be fucking joking!

It ticks a number of Valentine’s Day boxes – Roses: check;  Talks about love: check; Flowery semi-poetic gibberish: check. If I spoke to the fair one like this she would administer a well deserved slap. This example is typical of what’s on offer at this time of year. It’s designed so the person giving this can avoid having to come up with anything original themself. Frankly its awful. Any other day of the year uttering this kind of gibberish will get you dumped on the spot. But on one day of the year it is apparently OK to spout this kind of rubbish and the poor recipient feels they have to tolerate it on the grounds that it is Valentine’s Day. There is a great scene in National Lampoons Animal House when John Belushi is walking down stairs of a frat house toga party only to find some guy with an acoustic guitar singing about love, off-key, out of tune and with appalling lyrics. Belushi takes the guitar from him and smashes it to pieces, before handing it back. This is how this kind of card makes me feel. Not loving and romantic but violent and mildly psychotic about finding the person who designed it and pulling out their fingernails with pliers.

Of course if you are a celebrity the gesture and the expense involved are the most important things. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like being rich and spending a vast sum on a gesture and ensuring your agents leak it to the press and turn it into a PR stunt. Love is getting one of your minions to arrange the Valentine’s Day gift but press recognition is what really counts.

In the past I have been out for Valentine’s Day dinner, restaurants bursting at the seams with couples looking into each others eyes over a plastic rose and some cheap pink bubbly being passed off as Proseco, trying desperately to think of something to say. Never again. Its one of the few days of the year I’d really advise NOT going out for a meal.

For the mid-life male its a little less mass market. It’s about what celebrating what we enjoy. So after work today we settled down with a take away curry (extra chillies please), a nice bottle of wine and will follow it up with a reasonable movie, which will most likely have little romance but an impressive body count. I will tell her how much I love her and it will have nothing to do with the day of the year – because I do it every day. No pink frilly tacky shit in site. We’ve been together for over 20 years and in that time we have gone past the stage of doing things because somehow it’s expected and instead we do what makes us happy.  She doesn’t need 1000 roses to know I love her, she needs to hear me say it and know I mean it, 365 days per year – not just 1.

Mid Life Comforts – the quality pen.

Posted: January 23, 2014 in Musings

If there is one thing that typifies being middle-aged, it’s the desire for creature comforts that in your younger years would have been dismissed with a sneer.

I remember when I thought I’d never tire of going to gigs and how it didn’t matter what I wore or what I owned. The idea of possessions being important  to me just didn’t register. Thirty years later its a different story. I can justify it to myself in so many ways – the household appliances make my life easier or seeing as I really enjoy watching movies then a good HD TV makes perfect sense (and oh yes, I do love that Sony Bravia 50 inch piece of engineering brilliance). Most people could understand those, but one thing less easy to explain is how I am a sucker for is a nice pen.

I remember when going through school and onto college, the sign of the well to do up-and-coming young student was that epitome of writing class, the Parker Rollerball.

17939

You could tell it was a class act – it even came with its own box.

Normally, the source of such an implement was the well-intentioned Xmas present from a relative who didn’t know you well enough to choose something you’d really like but wanted to play it safe while scoring points with your parents by acknowledging your Nobel-prize winning potential. I must have had about a dozen of these over my school and college years. Strangely enough I have no idea what happened to any of them, other than they never lasted long  enough to need a refill.

Working full-time thereafter I was happy in the day job using the everyday disposable biro without a second thought. Then suddenly one day I wanted a ‘good’ pen. Where did that come from? No idea. It didn’t build up on me gradually. It was bang, one day the biro’s I had been using for years without a second thought were suddenly flawed, rubbish and frankly just shit! I need a better writing implement than this. How can I expect to function to my full potential while having to use such a shoddy pen? I should explain here my job doesn’t require a lot of writing. I was a depot manager at the time and would spend more time on the PC than I would with pen and paper. So there is no real justifiable reason for this desire to upgrade my writing implement of choice. I just wanted something I perceived to be better. It was an indulgence. Well, what of it? That’s one of the advantages about being in the mid-life bracket. I want to indulge myself, so fuck it, I will!

Not knowing much about pens then (and not much more now) I quickly did some research and found a range that I not only liked but I could afford too. And this was how the Waterman pen came into my life. Gone are the rather tacky matt metallic finishes of the Parker and in come the gorgeous shiny lacquered finishes of the Waterman. And ohhhhh the weight – let me tell you about the weight. If you’ve never used a ‘good’ pen before, it’s the weight that gets you straight away. It just sits in your hand perfectly, it feels as if it belongs there. Oh yes my friends, this is writing bliss!

watPatrician-lacquerNot only do these things look great and feel great, they even write well. Once you start using a pen like this, going back to the old biro’s of the past just isn’t going to happen. Well, not without a fight anyway.

I probably write even less now than ever, but I have three Watermans – two pens and a propelling pencil. Each one is a complete indulgence and frankly I wouldn’t be without them. I had a business meeting this week where I required to take notes and its so much less of a chore with a quality pen than a biro. Want a mid-life treat? Go buy a Waterman.

The only thing even a pen this good does not help is that my handwriting still resembles the last throes of an arthritic spider that fell into an ink well staggering across a sheet of paper.

Marginal gains – all add up

Posted: January 15, 2014 in General, Musings

Recently I’ve been trying to identify what I can do to be a bit better at, well, life really. It sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? I’ve made some changes already in the past few years and I kind of like how they have worked out for me, so I’m still on the look out for any more I can find.

I’ve been marginally interested in the rise of Team Sky as a cycling team. I’m not a cyclist, but in the UK you can’t help but notice Team Sky due to their success and that they are British.  Being part of one of the UK’s largest media companies also helps with the promotion a tad too. For years Britain was never quite at the table of world-class cycling but in the past decade or so that’s changed. Suddenly we would appear to be the team to beat, or in most cases not beat. Lets see the stats:

Athens 2004 – 4 medals, 2 gold

Beijing 2008 – 14 medals, 8 golds

2011 World Championship – Mark Cavendish first British road racer since 1965 to win

2012 Tour de France – Bradley Wiggins first British winner

London 2012 – 12 medals, 8 golds

2013 Tour de France – Chris Froome 2nd ever British winner

These things don’t happen by accident and the person behind Team Sky is none other than the person who was in charge of the Olympic team, take a bow Sir Dave Brailsford.

His strategy, or at least what he’s making public, is about the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’. In short he looks at the detail and identifies where he can make small improvements, say 1%. He then carries the same strategy over as many areas as possible and these build up into a significant overall gain. One example I heard was he wanted Team Sky to sleep better, so he arranged for them to take the same mattresses with them when they moved around the Tour so the riders would have a more comfortable sleep at night. That way they would be less tired the following day. Just one small thing, but linked in with a bunch of others they add up. If you can improve 1% over 10 different areas, you’re looking at a 10% overall improvement.

Most people when looking at improving things in their life come up with really big ideas – I’m going to drop 3 stones, I’m going to find a new job, I’m going to buy a house, I’m going to do all of those etc. My amateur psychology outlook thinks these must be destined for failure in most cases simply because they are so daunting. Whereas if they focussed instead on losing two pounds, or focussed on updating their CV or decided to save a small amount each month – these just seem more doable and after the first couple of pounds are gone then decide to lose two more, the CV is ready well try sending out a few, got some money in the bank – keep saving and so on.

For me I need to decide what areas I can improve by one percent in. Once I’ve got those identified I can look at what I’m doing. Straight away it seems a less daunting task to improve my diet by 1% than to turn it upside down.

Find enough in the way of 1%’s and I’ll be able to total up to some significant changes. Wiggins here found enough to win Olympic Gold and the Tour de France! While its safe to say these pinnacles of performance may just (slightly!) be beyond what I can manage, it certainly makes me wonder about just how much I can achieve.

wiggins

What 1%s would you start with?

Dealing With Clutter

Posted: January 9, 2014 in General, Musings

Clutter is a real middle-aged thing. It just builds up over the years and before you know it you are swamped in endless piles of miscellaneous stuff. This has resulted in me ending up with cupboards, wardrobes and drawers full of complete crap.

In the past I hated throwing things out. Having saved money to buy them, it always felt wrong to then chuck them out (unless broken). Who knows, I might need it again at some point. Throwing out books was a special kind of heresy, the culprits of which have a special place in Hell reserved just for them. And its at the bad end of town. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suffering from some sort of OCD where I can’t throw anything out. It was more I just didn’t get round to sorting it out and as time went on the task became bigger.

clutter

Aside from not wanting to throw things out my biggest failing was ‘keeping things good for a special occasion’. For example I’d buy a new shirt which I liked and then I wouldn’t wear it because I was keeping it good for the suitable occasion to wear it. meanwhile I’d carry on wearing the same old shirts that the new one was meant to replace… Yes, even as I write this out I know it reads like madness.

The turning point came about two years ago when the hanging pole in my wardrobe collapsed having bowed so much from all the weight it was having to withstand. I started going through the clothes lying in a pile on the ground. Some no longer fitted me, some had faded beyond recognition and some probably hadn’t been worn inside of a decade. That trendy logo covered T-shirt that I thought looked cool in my late twenties was never going to cut it on a 45-year-old. I couldn’t even remember even having some of them. There were also a few I wished I couldn’t remember. Then there were the ones being kept good, some were years old and still had the tags on them.

Several bin-bags worth later the wardrobe was a lot more spartan, but definitely structurally safer. The next thing was to make sure I didn’t accumulate the same amount of stuff again. Several studies have been carried out and while some may advocate a little clutter helps people be more creative than normal the general rule is clutter causes distraction and stress. I’m not exactly a creative type so it just gets in my way and irritates me.

My current rules to avoid accumulating crap:

  •  Whenever I buy something (especially clothing) I have to throw out an equivalent sized item.
  • Don’t buy what you can’t use or wear straight away.
  • Go for quality over quantity. For example when I buy a shirt now I’ll spend three times as much on the shirt as I used to, it will look better and last longer and it only takes up one-third of the space as three cheaper shirts would.
  • Don’t buy something because its cheap or on offer. Unless you really want it irrespective of the price it will gather dust.
  • Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Getting into debt for an item will leave you despising the item as you will always associate it with the debt.
  • I’m also a fan of digital storage. Dump all my old CDs onto cloud storage and then not have them lying everywhere taking up space? Hell yeah! I haven’t bought a CD in years it’s all downloads now.

Not exactly rocket science there. But I feel better having less stuff around. The possessions I now have are fewer but nicer and I’m happier with that.  Having fewer clothes means I take less time to decide what to wear and because they are better quality I feel better in them.

The start of a new year has lots of us trying to improve our lives. Lists of resolutions are easy to find and ‘being more organised’ is a popular one. Well, a right good way to make a start on this is decluttering. Here’s one of the things that surprised me, I could find reasons (or more accurately, excuses) for keeping things, but the more ruthless I was about throwing stuff out the better I felt afterwards. So if you want to start 2014 feeling better about life then get rid of the clutter – the sooner the better.

I’ve recently been enjoying reading posts at Lifehacker. They are generally well written and informative, general tips about how to improve all sorts of life skills. Not the sort of place I’d find much to get upset about. Until I came across this post entitled ‘Create Positive Snowballs to stick to new habits’. So far you are probably looking at the title and wondering about the cause of the issue. Go ahead, read the post.  It’s basically saying start off with small easy to accomplish goals and build up to bigger ones once you get into the habit of accomplishing your goals. I know, you’re still struggling to see the problem. Let me help you, let’s look at the picture:

ku-xlargeNow go look at the comments…

Comment 1 – “I would enjoy the site much more without profanity”

Comment 2 – “I can’t share posts like this with coworkers, and that makes me sad. It also means fewer people will be able to view your ads, if that makes any difference.”

Seriously? WTF? Surely anyone looking at the picture can tell that it has a certain amount of irony, especially when the subject is about setting small goals? I suspect not, they just see the F-word and everything after dissolves in a puddle of self-righteous indignation.

Profanity does not ruin or make any point less important. Tedium however is a very different story.  To comment giver 1, I would enjoy the site far more if you kept your tedious opinions to yourself. If you don’t like what’s written then fuck off to somewhere less offensive to your delicate soul. To comment giver 2, go get some less delicate colleagues, where do you work? The local church? I’m sure the loss of your revenue to whatever advertisers will not push the site into bankruptcy, but if they put up a request for funds as opposed to profanity filtering then I’ll certainly make a donation.

When all is said and done I don’t swear that much, but I sure object to anyone telling me or others ‘Thou shall not’. There is nothing like someone trying to impose their moral compass on me to make me want to tell them where they can stick it.

Oh and to anyone concerned about the level of profanity on this blog, I give you this:

you-cannot-fathom-the-immensity-of-the-fuck-i-do-not-give

Reflections on 2013

Posted: December 28, 2013 in General, Motivation, Musings

With 2014 almost upon us, it’s time to take stock of 2013. 2013 is coming to an end and its time to have a look back and see what has gone well this year. Overall its been a fairly good year. A quick look at how it went.

Positives:

  • Had a superb holiday to Mexico, two weeks of absolute bliss.
  • Relationship has been great, we are growing in the same direction.
  • Fitness level and physique have improved. Gym attendance this year has been up on last year. I can now do proper dips.
  • I’ve become far more knowledgable about fitness and nutrition.
  • Elder daughter became a doctor of chemistry and left University for a full-time job and that seems to be working out really well for her.
  • I’d wanted to replace a lot of my old XL clothing and replace them with better, smaller sized and more flattering garments. Managed that and then some.
  • I now have slim-fit shirts!
  • I’ve had a good year performance wise at work.
  • Got the kitchen redone.
  • Discovered Sons of Anarchy.
  • Bought a new TV. 50″ of hi-res awesomeness
  • Quit playing World of Warcraft

Negatives:

  • My mood often focussed on the negatives rather than the positives. Too much of the glass being half empty.
  • Socially I feel we are becoming more reclusive than ever. I don’t seek out new people to interact with. Or even stay in touch with existing contacts as much as I should.
  • The prevailing attitude at work of profit over all and the focus on cost cutting has been depressing.
  • Spent too many hours just killing time. Spider solitaire and the likes when I could be doing something more interesting.
  • Been a bit too indulgent with money buying fripperies. It has not caused any problems but has resulted in missed opportunities.
  • The plan of finding new recipes to try sort of fizzled out.
  • Haven’t read enough. And not found much in the way of new authors.
  • Started 2013 reading up on business books which helped me pick up new skills and alternative processes but I let that slip as the year went on.
  • Didn’t get round to replacing the PC
  • Haven’t found much in the way of new music to listen to.

Looking over the above it feels as if not only are there more positives than negatives, but also the positives are more significant too. As the year draws to a close I feel pretty good about 2013. As I go into 2014 I don’t need to worry about some of the things I wanted for 2013 (e.g. replacing my clothes to the same extent as I did in 2013) and having done my homework on fitness and diet, 2014 should be about keeping up what I did in 2013 as opposed to having to fundamentally change anything.

My relationship with the fair one continues to go in all the right directions and definitely moving together rather than apart. While we getting are older we both feel pretty good about it and I’d even be as bold enough to say look pretty good for it too. For 2014 it’s about continuing the same and if all goes to plan we can be looking back in twelve months time thinking that 2014 went as well for us as 2013.

The challenge for 2014 will be to remain more positive. Sometimes I get bogged down in the negatives and its only when looking over the successes and reminding myself of them that I realise that things are actually pretty good.